Taylor said Iraq is currently in various stages of liberation with hundreds of Iraqis embracing
“This is related in significance with Lori’s death. If not for Lori and thousands like her, Iraq would not be liberated,” he said. “Democracy here gives us a lot of freedoms, but sadly it is not available to everyone.”
Taylor said Piestewa understood the concept of homeland.
“She was a remarkable woman and a brave soldier,” he said.
The chairman emphasized that when somebody knows her family they understand Lori’s character, the faith her family shares and their family ties.
“I’m fortunate to know Terry and Percy (the parents). They have served as a rock and a beacon for all of us, even in our darkest days,” he said.
Taylor said considering the past contributions of Hopi and other soldiers—especially
the Hopi Codetalkers—it’s amazing how tribal sovereignty remains not widely understood. He said tribal sovereignty recognizes family, culture and sacred ways.
“Lori is a symbol of the tribe so that freedom can ring on every reservation, so we can choose our way of life within our reservation,” he said.
Taylor praised Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano for getting the state to rename Squaw Peak into
Piestewa Peak and Squaw Parkway into Piestewa Parkway.
“That move was steeped in controversy and it was heavily criticized, but it’s well worth it. Let me
tell America that Hopi people are united for Piestewa Peak. Let me tell America that Hopi people are united for Piestewa Parkway. This is a small tribute to our fallen heroine who leaves behind a legacy,” he said.
Leonard Talaswaima, a Hopi veteran, said he was in the Phoenix valley when he was informed that Squaw Peak was officially renamed Piestewa Peak.
“I called my commander and my wife because I was so happy that I had to share it. I had to climb it the next morning. I went in the wrong direction a couple times. I thought it would take me five minutes, but it took 45 minutes. As I got to the top, the sun just came over the horizon and it was a beautiful day,” he said.
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley said the Piestewa children will miss her and her legacy must be remembered.
President Shirley said the legacy that Piestewa left behind is that people cannot stand on the sidelines when it comes to protecting freedom. He added that freedom is important to retaining the Navajo way of life within the four sacred mountains.
“She tells us that we have to be involved,” he said.
The Navajo president said Piestewa’s message is that “we are not alone.”
“We have relatives and friends. We can stand together and see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Lori’s truth is that we are all relatives and in this world together. We need each other.”
Shirley reiterated that due to Lori and other soldiers that “we enjoy our sacred ways, our
prayers, our songs within the four sacred mountains.”
Alene Garcia, governor of Upper Moenkopi—the village that Piestewa hailed from—said that Lori entered Iraq without hesitation even though she was scared. Gov. Garcia said Lori was compelled to fight against the tyranny of a dictator.
“Rarely have we seen such tragedy, but she taught us that we must have faith in the superior being. We have all mourned her passing; now, may her journey to the everlasting life be without a heavy heart,” she said.
Garcia said she has learned a lot from Terry and Percy Piestewa.
“Instead of consoling them, they were consoling us,” she said.
Hopi Councilman Phillip Quochytewa noted that native brothers and sisters came from as far away as New York and Montana.
“This type of tragedy brings Indian people closer together. Be thankful that we’re here, alive and
well,’ he said.
Sharri Farrington, field representative for U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, said the congressman regretted not attending but his mother was having heart surgery and he was at her side.
Farrington read a letter from Rep. Franks who stated that Piestewa was a daughter of freedom who personifies bravery. The congressman added that the Piestewa family lost a loving daughter and the community lost a friend.
Franks said in the letter that many Iraqi women want the same freedom that Piestewa had but instead had to live under repression.
“Lori had a loving family, but sacrificed so much for strangers so that they could have the same freedoms,” he said.
Farrington also read a letter from Congressman J.D. Hayworth who emphasized that Lori paid the ultimate price in the fight for freedom.
Richard Means, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, praised the Hopi High School Junior ROTC for leading in the posting of the colors.
“It takes young men and women to keep our nation free. I know Lori is in her glory that so many came out to honor her. We lift our heads up that we’re proud to be who we are,” he said.
Means said he was in combat 11 years ago so he had an idea of what Piestewa went through. But, he emphasized that people have to stand up for what’s right.
“Or even if it’s wrong—once you take that oath,” he said. “You can’t imagine the heroism that was going through her brain, or the mind she had for selfless service.”
Taylor Satala, a representative of the Hopi American Legion, said Piestewa is America’s daughter.
“She was just a trooper doing her job,” he said.
Satala said Piestewa approached life’s circumstances with a caring attitude.
“She understood the greatest accomplishment was what benefited the Hopi and the nation,” he said. “I say to Percy and Terry: Thank you for being a great inspiration to the rest of the country. You are America’s family. It’s rare to have such a caring family.”
Hopi Councilwoman Deanna Etnire closed the ceremony with a prayer. Just before the prayer, she said: “I’m not filled with sadness, but gladness. We are all one family.”