Published On: Mon, Nov 6th, 2017

ON THE SIDELINES: The CHS Arena does not exist

HERO: A lize-size statue of Medal of Honor recipient PFC Charles George stands guard over the Cherokee Veterans Park. This year’s Veterans Day celebration and observance will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 11am at the Yellowhill Activity Center. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)





There is no place known as the CHS Arena.  It doesn’t exist.  It is the Charles George Memorial Arena.  It is not the CHS Arena or the high school arena or simply the arena.

That college-level complex, home to Cherokee basketball and volleyball and other school events, was named in honor of a great American hero.

PFC George, one of only 28 American Indians to receive the Medal of Honor, threw himself on an enemy grenade, saving his comrades at the expense of his own life on Nov. 29, 1952 near Songnae-dong, Korea.

“Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold,” said Ralph Waldo Emmerson, noted American poet.

As long as we remember the deeds of great heroes such as PFC Charles George, his legacy of heroism and service will endure until the sun grows cold.

That’s why it is so important to remember him properly and use the full name of the complex named in his honor.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily talking about everyday usage such as a student asking another student where an event is going to be.  “Oh, it’s in the arena.”

I’m talking about official mentions of the facility.  I’ve seen flyers and event listings in other media outlets that state that such-and-such event will be held in the CHS Arena.  That’s what I’m talking about.

A Veterans Day event will be held at the Yellowhill Activity Center on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 11am.  I’ll be there, as I am every year, with camera and notepad in hand covering the event.  I always enjoy the event although attendance does vary from year-to-year.  It does sadden me though that the organizers of the event think that the Yellowhill Activity Center will hold everyone.

Unfortunately, I think it will as well.  But, I wish that organizers had to reserve the Charles George Memorial Arena due to the huge influx of people attending the event each year.  Maybe one day that will be the case.

As we approach the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month this year, take a moment to thank a veteran.  If you can, try to take an hour or two to attend the Veterans Day event here in Cherokee or try to attend one elsewhere.

And, the next time you enter the Charles George Memorial Arena for a basketball game or other event, take a moment and read the Medal of Honor Citation that is emblazoned on the wall.  It can be found at the bottom of this article as well.

And, the next time you speak of the venue, please use the full name – Charles George Memorial Arena – as it honors a true American and Cherokee hero.


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Songnae-dong, Korea, 30 November 1952.
Entered service at: Whittier, N.C.
Born: 23 August 1932, Cherokee, N.C.
G.O. NO.: 19, 18 March 1954.

Citation: Pfc. George, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy on the night of 30 November 1952. He was a member of a raiding party committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain feature, the group was subjected to intense mortar and machine gun fire and suffered several casualties. Throughout the advance, he fought valiantly and, upon reaching the crest of the hill, leaped into the trenches and closed with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. When friendly troops were ordered to move back upon completion of the assignment, he and 2 comrades remained to cover the withdrawal. While in the process of leaving the trenches a hostile soldier hurled a grenade into their midst. Pfc. George shouted a warning to 1 comrade, pushed the other soldier out of danger, and, with full knowledge of the consequences, unhesitatingly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing the full blast of the explosion. Although seriously wounded in this display of valor, he refrained from any outcry which would divulge the position of his companions. The 2 soldiers evacuated him to the forward aid station and shortly thereafter he succumbed to his wound. Pfc. George’s indomitable courage, consummate devotion to duty, and willing self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the military service.