We salute the Native American warriors who go wherever they’re needed to honor US military veterans
On a cold February afternoon, a handful of pallbearers pulled the casket of Frankie Reye Alexander from a hearse and placed it over his final resting place at Tahoma Cemetery.
A traditional song, “Soldier Boy,” echoed from a pair of Yakamas who sang to the beat of a deerskin drum.
About 20 members of the Yakama Warriors Association stood at attention under a gray sky as they gave Alexander his final salute. Seven Warriors raised their rifles and fired three shots. Other Warriors formed a color guard, and one handed a folded United States flag to a member of Alexander’s family.
Alexander, a Yakama, faced combat in Vietnam and later became a Seattle police officer before returning to the Yakama reservation. He died Jan. 12 at age 73.
The Warriors Association formed in 1991 to provide military honors at funerals on the reservation. Since its inception, the veterans group has assisted at funerals across the region, on and off the reservation, for all walks of servicemen.
And so it was at Alexander’s funeral.
“Today we gather on this sacred ground under the watchful eye of the creator to honor a veteran, a warrior,” Head Warrior Vic Wood told the gathering. “Frankie Alexander served the United States Army. He served with honor and with dignity … he stepped up for his country, he stepped up for that flag, he stepped up for his people. He was willing to make that supreme sacrifice for you and for me.”
A stillness fell over the cemetery as family and friends — about 100 in all — embraced one another as Alexander’s coffin was lowered into the ground. Tears spilled from the eyes of a young girl.
“Having him honored by other veterans and Native American veterans was an honor for our family,” his brother, Anthony Robbins, said afterward.
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