WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie broke ground Sept. 25, on the first American Indian Veterans Memorial at a VA national cemetery. 

It is VA’s first major monument honoring American Indian, Alaska Native and Pacific Islander Veterans.

“Today is California Native American Day and there is no better way to honor American Indian Veterans than with this groundbreaking ceremony,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “More Native Americans per capita serve our country than any other demographic. This memorial will honor their sacrifice and service in the United States military.” 

The memorial at Riverside National Cemetery consists of a plaza and walkway centered on “The Gift,” a twice life-sized bronze statue representing an American Indian. Construction is expected to be completed in the next couple of years. The memorial is being paid for with funds raised by the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee.

Riverside National Cemetery is the busiest cemetery managed by the VA’s National Cemetery Administration. It was established in 1976 through the transfer of 740 acres from March Air Force Base. The cemetery was dedicated and opened for burials November 11, 1978.

To learn more about the American Indian Veterans Memorial, contact Riverside National Cemetery Executive Director Peter Young at 951-653-8417, or visit www.facebook.com/NatCemRiverside.

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