Pala launches fundraising campaign to honor Native American veterans

From left to right, Pala Band of Mission Indians Chairman Robert Smith, retired U.S. Army veteran and Native American Chris Devers and sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg stand with the half-sized replica of “The Gift” during the dedication ceremony Friday, Sept. 1, in the hotel lobby of Pala Casino Spa and Resort.

PALA – Pala Band of Mission Indians Chairman Robert Smith, retired U.S. Army veteran and Native American Chris Devers, and sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg dedicated a half-sized replica of “The Gift” in the hotel lobby of Pala Casino Spa and Resort Friday, Sept. 1, to launch its campaign to help raise funds for the American Indian Alaska Native Veterans Memorial Committee.

Pala Casino Spa and Resort and the Pala Band of Mission Indians have partnered with the committee to educate the public about the military service of Native Americans to the United States of America and to help support the funding of a national memorial to those veterans.

The committee hopes to raise $3 million to complete the installation at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, which is often cited as the Arlington of the West because it is home to the Medal of Honor Memorial, the Veterans Memorial and the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial.

The replica of “The Gift” is on display in the hotel lobby of Pala Casino Spa and Resort until Nov. 30. The sculpture is an exact copy of the monument to honor Native American veterans that will be enacted at Riverside National Cemetery once sufficient funds have been raised.

The replica is an exact copy of the 12-foot bronze statue that will serve as the centerpiece of the memorial and has been on tour in California’s American Indian-owned casinos and resorts since Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, 2016. The final installation in Riverside National Cemetery will include the monument surrounded by soaring bronze eagles on pedestals placed in a landscaped viewing area.

The monument, created by Schomberg, will be the first national memorial in a national veterans’ cemetery to honor over 200 years of patriotism by America’s original inhabitants.

“The Pala Band of Mission Indians and all our team members at Pala Casino are very proud to play a role in this history-making program,” Smith said. “With our reputation for community service, we know we can make a significant contribution to this long-awaited honor and recognition for Native Americans.”

Donations to the memorial fund may be made online at www.aianveteransmemorial.com, by mail utilizing the pamphlet tear-out at the display or by contributing to the GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/national-indian-veterans-memorial.

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