JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — For the first time in 20 years, Onslow County hosted a veterans pow wow at the American Legion in Jacksonville.
Board Chairman for the event, Raquel Painter, explained that a large percentage of veterans are Native American. This event gave service members stationed here a chance to celebrate their culture.
“Being a Marine Corp Veteran, retired after 26 years, that was always something that was lacking at my duty stations … so if I wasn’t able to make it home for a celebration, and they didn’t have the Native American event on the base, or around the base, I went without,” said Painter.
Painter said the event also creates a more integrated environment for everyone in the community.
“Because when you understand somebody that is different from you, you tend to find those bonds that are the same,” she said.
Head dancer and Gold Star Mother Amanda Ballard is a member of North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe. She became a Gold Star Mother when her son died overseas while serving in the Marine Corps. Now, she wears a dress made from his military uniforms.
“After he passed, and I was able to go through his things and remember him and honor him, we decided to take his dress blues, his charlies, and his cammies, and do our patchwork with it,” Ballard said.
Organizers say that after five years in the making, the event was a huge hit.
“We’re in a community that is so diverse with so many different ethnicities, and we need more cultural events in Onslow County, so this is one that we plan to make an annual event,” said Painter.
Painter added that people are already asking when the pow wow will be next year. She said there’s no question that this event will continue for years to come.