July 19th, 2016 brings us 37-days away from the National Park Service Centennial. In this edition of the #CentennialCountdown we go back 37-years to 1979 which is the year that Fort Scott National Historic Site and Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site were established. 1979 was also the 100th anniversary of the creation of Custer National Cemetery.
I want to take a minute to provide a short history lesson.
1876: The Battle of Little Big Horn
1879: January 29th - The site is preserved by the Secretary of War as a National Cemetery
1879: April 7th - Captain George Sanderson makes the first memorial for the site
1881: July - Lieutenant Charles Roe builds a granite memorial on top of Last Stand Hill
1940: Transferred from the US Department of War to the National Park Service
1946: Renamed Custer Battlefield National Monument
1991: Renamed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
1999: The first of five granite markers denoting were indian warriors fell during the battle
2003: An indian memorial is built 'to honor all of the tribes defending their way of life at the Battle'
I want to provide you with because it helps me in time better understand the world that we live in and the conflict that is happening in our country.
3: To build a memorial for fallen US soldiers
5: To build a nicer memorial for US soldiers
64: To move it out from under the War Department
70: To change its name from a Cemetery to a National Monument
115: To recognize both sides that died on the battlefield
123: To build a memorial for indian warriors
128: To build a nicer memorial for indian warriors
I understand that we were at war. I understand that in the 1870's you didn't make memorials for who was the 'enemy'. I also have to acknowledge that we were an instigator in the war with the plains indians. Think about it this way. Imagine being a member of the Lakota, Dakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes today. Your forbearers fought a battle, they died and you became part of a country that took 120 extra years to build a memorial honoring them.
When we talk about #bluelivesmatter and #blacklivesmatter I think we have to understand historical context. Our country has not always been good at honoring those who die. Sometimes, at the time, we perceive 'the other' to be the 'bad guy', the 'enemy'. I guess I'm asking you to think about this, 140-years from now what do you want the grandkids of your grandkids to think of us.
I want them to think that we were a people that honored each other and tried to stop the bloodshed.