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Ceremony Honors Veterans Buried at Saint Elizabeths Hospital

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
US Army recognizes contributions of the Black Seminole Indian Scouts.

The Department of Mental Health in collaboration with the Ninth and Tenth (Horse) Calvary Association (Buffalo Soldiers) and the US Army Freedom Team is sponsoring a special ceremony at 11 am, Friday, October 9, 2009, in the Chapel on the campus of Saint Elizabeths Hospital, 1100 Alabama Avenue SE, to honor veterans buried in the Hospital cemetery and to highlight the legacy of the Black Seminole Indian scouts.

It will mark the first time that the US Army formally recognizes the contributions of the scouts who played a major role in Texas and other parts of the Southwest during the Indian Wars. A new headstone will be unveiled at the grave of Williams Shields, a Black Seminole Indian scout who served in the Army for twenty years and was buried at the Hospital in 1910.

Saint Elizabeths Hospital cared for members of the Armed Forces from its opening in 1855 to 1946 providing medical and surgical care as well as treatment for their mental disorders. More than 1,800 veterans of numerous conflicts including the War of 1812, the Civil War, Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, and World War I are buried in the 9-acre East Campus cemetery.

William “Dub” Warrior, Chief of the John Horse Band of the Black Seminoles, will talk about the history of the Black Seminole Indians. Though four Black Seminole Indian scouts received the Medal of Honor, their contributions are not widely known or recognized. During the ceremony, Army officials will award a commendation to Chief Warrior.

“We welcome this opportunity to honor the veterans who lived and died at Saint Elizabeths”, said Steve Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health.

Saint Elizabeths served as a premier military mental health facility during four major conflicts from the Civil War through the end of World War II and introduced military psychiatry as a distinct specialty in this country.