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Indian veterans without monument

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. » The Navajo Code Talkers are legendary.

Then there was Cpl. Ira Hamilton Hayes, the Pima Indian who became a symbol of courage and patriotism when he and his fellow Marines raised the flag over Iwo Jima in 1945.

Before World War II and in the decades since, tens of thousands of American Indians have enlisted in the armed forces to serve their country at a rate much greater than any other ethnicity.

Yet among all the monuments and statues along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., not one stands in recognition.

A grass-roots effort is brewing among tribes across the country to change that, while Demo­cratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii has introduced legislation that would clear the way for the National Museum of the American Indian to begin raising private funds for a memorial.

John Garcia, deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said he has been meeting with Native American leaders and believes that a memorial "is a real possibility" if land is located and private funds are raised. Garcia estimated there are about 200,000 Native American veterans.

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