Meet the former Army officer who rallied thousands of veterans to Standing Rock.

Wes Clark Jr. is about as close as it gets to U.S. Army royalty.

The son of a renowned four-star general, Clark was born while his father was still fighting in Vietnam. He grew up at various Army bases all across the country before attending Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, followed by four years of active duty as a cavalry officer.

Wes Clark Jr. (left) with his father on the Democratic primary campaign trail in 2003. Photo by Michael Springer/Getty Images.


When 9/11 happened, Clark was living in New York City. He was eager to re-enlist, but his father talked him out of it. Since then, Clark has looked to other ways of making the world better. Now he's a writer, a climate activist, and a co-host of the popular political web series "The Young Turks."

Clark had been following the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline conflict for months. As he watched the news, he became more and more enraged.

To Clark, this wasn't just a violation of human rights. It was an insult to veterans like him and his family.

Why? Because despite their continued mistreatment by the U.S. government, Native Americans have been fighting in the American armed forces for 200 years at very high enlistment rates.

Yankton Sioux veterans received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2013 on behalf of their tribe's contributions as code talkers during World War I. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

"First Americans have served in the United States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans," Clark wrote. "There is no other people more deserving of veteran support."

Clark took an oath when he joined the Army. He swore to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." And by that oath, he believes he and his fellow veterans should be defending the Standing Rock Sioux from the human rights violations perpetrated against them in the past months, both from police departments and private security forces.

Clark put his uniform back on and organized the movement Veterans Stand for Standing Rock. On Dec. 3, 2016, he and his troops left for North Dakota.

The veterans made a plan to join the Standing Rock Sioux in ceremony and prayer at the Oceti Sakowin camp, then form a human shield around the water protectors in direct nonviolent action against the pipeline construction.

"We are there to put our bodies on the line, no matter the physical cost, in complete non-violence to provide a clear representation to all Americans of where evil resides," the co-organizers wrote in the group's official mission briefing.

"We’re not going out there to get in a fight with anyone. They can feel free to beat us up, but we’re 100% nonviolence," Clark added in an interview with Task & Purpose.

The Oceti Sakowin Camp near Cannon Ball, ND after a snowfall. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

More than 2,000 veterans joined the cause — many more than the 500 they had originally had hoped for.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The veterans arrived on Dec. 4, and everything went according to plan. There were sage cleansings...

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

...and a human barricade to protect people from a police line.

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

By evening, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had denied an easement for the pipeline's construction, putting its future in doubt.

Of course, the main credit for this victory should stand with the steadfast water protectors who have been camped out for months and who struggled for decades before that, too. But the massive veteran presence certainly helped.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Last night, on the veterans' first day at camp, there was celebration — but the battle isn't over.

Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the pipeline, is still refusing to back down — and given recent violence in pursuit of ETP's goals, it would be foolish for the water protectors to turn their backs just yet. Which means that both the camp and the veterans will remain in place, perhaps indefinitely.

The men and women who serve this country in uniform have always understood the "American experiment" is a work in a progress — and our Native American brothers and sisters have always been intimately aware of just how fragile that experiment can be. But they can all agree that environmental destruction and state-sponsored violence are not compatible with the ideal of freedom on which the country was founded.

As one tribal elder said during Sunday's celebration: "Tomorrow we fight, tonight we dance."

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.