Monday, August 12, 2013

Last Stop, Last Stand

June 18, 2013

The departure for Wisconsin was scheduled for early Sunday morning, so there was plenty of time to make our way back. We spent the night in Hardin, so we’d be right on the spot for Jack’s first visit to Little Bighorn, another of Grandpa’s favorite places.

Here is the link fromour previous trip to the battlefield, on which Grandpa delightedly accompanied us. He grew so fragile by the end that it’s a little hard to imagine, but as recently as 2009 Tina and I took him camping several times. We had to help him down to his bed, and haul him up again, but he really enjoyed travelling with his grandkids and great-grandkids!  As a former history teacher who had made the past come alive for so many students, he was always enthralled to visit these storied places.

We found the quiet visit among the dead very soothing, just as I had suspected and planned. (Not that I’m bragging or anything. Well, not much.) We were rather disappointed to miss the start of the battle reenactments the very next day, but made plans to be there in 2014.

Near the visitor’s lodge, a retired teacher kept a large audience spellbound with his descriptive rendition of the battle. I’ve never seen anything like it, but due to the family nature of this blog, I can’t bring myself to share everything I learned. Let’s just say that in the history books, it seemed a little more sanitary. Never before had I known in such detail exactly what splattered where, and when. And apparently Reno was so unnerved by the sudden welter of gore that descended upon his person, that he went completely off his rocker and began to issue back-to-back contradictory orders. On the horses! Off the horses! Back on the horses! What are you doing up there? Get down! Aaaaaaaaaagh!!!

Some body parts of well-known people in the battle were the thickness of parchment by the end. The native women took their own steps to ensure that Custer and his men couldn't continue to hunt their dead loved ones in the afterlife. 

Small children listened, wide-eyed, to the graphic account.  Some parents might disagree, and they should feel free to do so, but I found it refreshing to have war portrayed in all its unvarnished horror, rather than being glorified or glossed over. Nobody listening to that would feel a desire to have been there, no matter how brave they might be. There was no glamor there,  only a tragic slaughter of priceless men, women, and children.

It’s been a little over 137 years since then. Have we learned our lessons of love and tolerance? Nope, not entirely. In Matthew 24, in the double prophecy that Jesus gave of what would happen both before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and before His coming at the end of the world, He said that “nation would rise against nation”. In the Greek, the word is ethnos, from which of course we get words like “ethnic”, or “ethnicity”.

As we get closer and closer to the Second Coming, racial tensions will continue to increase. Ethnic groups will continue to fight each other more and more. When we see this reflected in the news headlines, we can know that Jesus’ coming is getting very near.

And if we belong to Christ, we can rise above these tensions, and avoid getting caught up in earthly labels based on our outward characteristics. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29

Native American Memorial

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