South Dakota Native American woman featured in tribute to veterans

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Native American woman from South Dakota is one of the people featured in an artistic tribute to military veterans. Her story was profiled in CBS Sunday Morning.

Here’s a preview:

Artist Mary Whyte knew she wanted a Native American to represent South Dakota when she set out to paint fifty veterans from fifty states.

In her portrait, Kella Withhorn is wearing handmade Lakota regalia.

“This is because of my military service,” Whitehorn said. “So, it’s been created for me, nobody else. The flags represent the military and the patriotism.”

She joined the Army at 20, assuming college wasn’t an option. “When I left home, I was such a shy kid. I never flew on a plane, didn’t know how to get on an escalator, I was just scared to death. And being in the military just opened my eyes to the world. I got to meet all kinds of people, and it helped me grow,” Withhorn said.

Now she has a master’s degree, and is a budget analyst for the federal government.

“This is Ed from North Carolina. He says, ‘Mary, I had 17 great years and one really bad day,” Whyte said.

“Pick a painting. This is Winston Scott, who served in the Navy for over 25 years as a captain and later at NASA did three spacewalks,” Whyte said.

Hiroshi, from Maui, is one of two World War II veterans in the show. He tried to enlist right after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and was turned away because he’s Japanese-American. “But then a year later, he was allowed to enlist,” Whyte said.

Different wars… different backgrounds. The veterans pictured are as diverse as the nation they served. Mary Whyte’s intention when she began the project she called “We, the People.”

“I thought, what if I painted all of America?’ I do believe that our veterans are our greatest patriots – anyone willing to lay down their life for our country, that’s what truly makes a person most American,” Whyte said.

Click here for the full CBS Sunday morning story.

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