November DEI

November is….

Written by Adrienne Berry

November is a month for gratitude and thanksgiving. As a nation, we are thankful for so much in our professional and personal lives. I personally am thankful for my family, friends, and believe it or not, for being a paralegal. As a child, I knew that I would be a Supreme Court Justice. Everyone said that I would make a great attorney. Well, that dream was derailed, but not my love of the law.  Who knew that being a paralegal would turn into my passion? On top of that, I met some of my best friends as a result of this profession; and joined our state affiliate organization where I am now serving as the president! WOW, so much to be thankful for! In addition to that gratitude, I am a military mom. My daughter is a Senior First-Class Airman for the Alabama National Air Guard, a branch of the US Air Force. As I prepared and researched for this month’s recognitions, I was struck about how the two chosen celebrations are tied together- service, family, and gratitude. We give thanks to families for their support of service personnel. We give thanksgiving for the birth of our nation. Last month, we recognized Indigenous People’s Day on October 10 and for November, we celebrate National American Indian or Native American Heritage Month, which has been officially recognized since November 1990. We also recognize November as Military Family month which shows gratitude to the families of our military who have pledged an oath, and some have sacrificed their lives to protect our nation. In thinking of these two events, I am reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”   [i]

Military Family Month was established in 1996 through the Armed Services YMCA along with the US Government which originally recognized the families of those servicemen in all branches for the commitment and service to our country. What started as a week was expanded into a month by a signed proclamation by President Clinton. During November, families are honored and recognized for their commitment and contributions in support of the military and the nation. ( How does the recognition of military families fall into diversity, equity, and inclusion?  First, without the various branches, our government would not have the protections that citizens enjoy every day. All branches work together as a unit to get our country and its interests protected. The branches include, the Marines, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard, all of whom must work together in some form or fashion to carry out their mission. The servicemen/women could not do their jobs without the support of their families. What stands out to me is, “Their service and sacrifice. They, too, serve this nation. They weather holidays, birthdays, and major milestones without their military loved one. In the worst cases, they must deal with their loved one’s ultimate sacrifice.”

It is important that military personnel and their families always feel included, and some ways to carry out that task includes some of the following:

  1. Volunteer your time.
  2. Share their passion.
  3. Deliver an anonymous care package.
  4. Listen. [ii]

National Native American Heritage Month during November celebrates the diverse and rich culture, history, and traditions of Native people. The observance is also a time to educate anyone and everyone about the different tribes, raise awareness about the struggles native people faced as well as in the present. American Indian pictures, words, names, and stories are a crucial part of American history and help mold our life today.[iii]

What do we know about the history of this celebration? The first celebration, American Indian Day, was held in 1915 in Kansas. The recognition included the first appeal of Indians to be recognized as citizens.  Several states followed suit, but it was not formally recognized as a holiday in the manner that Columbus Day has been observed. In 1990, under President George H. W. Bush, a joint motion was passed and signed recognizing November as National American Indian Heritage month.

American Indians have given many contributions to our nation from the early days until now.  “Believe it or not, lacrosse was one variety of indigenous stickball games the American Indians played as early as the 12th century.”   American Indian contributions include teaching the pilgrims how to live off the land, introduced new foods/plants native to the land, not originally found in the European countries, animals and natural medicines. Their influence also included a math system adopted from the Mayans and even some governmental setups. [iv]

A quote that seems fitting for today and all the days following,

“Conversation was never begun at once, nor in a hurried manner. No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation. Silence was meaningful with the Lakota, and his granting a space of silence to the speech-maker and his own moment of silence before talking was done in the practice of true politeness and regard for the rule that, “thought comes before speech.” – Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux Chief

Two events that seem to intertwine a month of gratitude. The often-overlooked appreciation of a group of people who greatly contributed to the birth of our nation. And the constant appreciation to the servicemen/women and their families for making the choice to serve our nation as a whole. We enjoy our liberties and freedoms as a result of those selfless choices.

[i] “Inaugural Address (1).” January 20, 1961, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1961.