NBC’s Brokaw Helps OLC Honor VeteransNov 15th, 2001 | By ldellinger | Category: 13-2: The Power of Partnerships, Tribal College News
Oglala Lakota College (OLC) celebrated its 30-year anniversary by conferring degrees on one of the largest graduating classes in its history. The 146 graduates received their diplomas and eagle plumes during a ceremony that included Tom Brokaw of NBC Nightly News as keynote speaker. He told them that they were warriors for their tribe as much as their ancestors had been. The graduates’ tools of battle are now higher education and other acquired job skills.
During the three-day graduation festivities, OLC also presented honorary diplomas to the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s warriors who served in World War I and World War II. Not only were they honored with their own day of ceremony but also by a photograph display. The college sought out photographs of the men either in uniform or at the age when they served. The photos were restored, enlarged, and arranged into a circular display several feet high.
During the graduation ceremony, OLC announced the establishment of the Gerald One Feather Lakota Studies Faculty Endowment Fund in recognition of his dedication to the college. One Feather, one of OLC’s principal founders, was a college classmate of Brokaw.
Brokaw expressed his respect for the Oglala people and their record of service to this country: “Those men who went off to fight that great war and save the world are a living reminder, not only of the greatness of their generation but of their people…. Consider their place in your history. When they answered the call of their country they were just two generations removed from the tragedy at Wounded Knee and the defeat of Custer at Little Bighorn.”
“That’s a stunning reminder of how swiftly history will change,” Brokaw continued. “In less than 75 years, the great Lakota people went from being hunted and battling the American Army to fighting with it. Unfortunately that loyalty, that patriotism, those values are too seldom commented upon in the description of your culture.”
“Let the Oglala tribe be known 50 years from now as ancestors of the greatest warriors and hunters but also as contemporaries of the best educated. Make college and a college degree the symbol of your success for a proud people, wiping out symbols of despair and surrender,” Brokaw told the graduates.