Tag Archives: Little Big Horn

Listeria – Inspiration Point

24 May

In the last post, I wrote about the list by True West of historic sites “that will make you weep.” That article contains a couple of secondary lists. One of those is “10 Western History Shrines That Will Inspire You.” Following are the ones that I have visited.

1. The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri – It is impressive to see. Driving into St. Louis, anyone can see that it dominates the skyline. However, I never saw it as inspiring. That could be because I have never been in it. I have been at its base and in the underground museum about westward expansion. However, my dislike of heights has kept me from going to the top. By the way, its real name is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

2. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas – In the last post, I wrote about my disappointment with the Alamo. Any place where people gave their lives is a place of inspiration. However, I cannot get over my initial feelings about the site.

3. Custer National Cemetery, Little Big Horn National Historic Battlefield – Before you get to the welcome center or the battlefield, you pass the cemetery. Like other military cemeteries, this one makes you think about all of those who gave their lives for their country. Our nation has not always gone into a fight for a just reason, but that does not lessen the sacrifices of those who served.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 123

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – The last time I was in the park was with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We did not go into the heart of the park but walked around the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River. The natural wonders are amazing, and the power of the earth is inspiring. Everyone should see Old Faithful at least once.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

5. The Palace of the Governor’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico – I could have been there this week but had other things to do. It is the oldest government building in the United States. Today, it is a museum, but it has witness great events in history. It has been under Spanish rule and American rule. Heck, it has also been under Confederate rule. Governor Lew Wallace finished his novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, within its walls.SONY DSC

6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California – My wife and I drove across the bridge on our honeymoon. It is a cool feeling to drive across one of the most famous bridges in the world. However, I did not expect all of the people walking and cycling across it. Just thinking about the power of the currents underneath is enough to inspire.image-25

8. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota – This is truly an amazing site. Looking up at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an inspiring view. However, I cannot help but think that the Black Hills were taken from the Native Americans to get at its gold.

9. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer, South Dakota – This one is also in the Black Hills and is the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was a famous warrior, but I wonder what he would think about a mountain being carved into his likeness. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, so we have no idea if this looks like him. On top of that, they have been carving the mountain for decades, and it is nowhere near finished. When I see it, I cannot help but think that the Native Americans are getting shafted again.

There is another list called “10 Western Sites That Will Make You Misty.” Next time, I think I will skip that one and move on to another subject. I do not find it very interesting or misty.

Picture This – Little Bighorn

24 Feb

Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 126

On June 25, 1876, George Custer and part of the 7th Cavalry charged into a Sioux encampment on the banks of the Little Bighorn River. The events that followed would become one of the most famous battles and most famous defeats in American history.

Many people in this part of the country can go to a Civil War battlefield and know the details of what happened there. I can do that at Little Bighorn. I first visited the battlefield in Montana when I was a kid and have been back several times. However, it was not the event that first gained my attention. It was the white markers scattered around the landscape.

At some point after the battle, marble markers were placed where soldiers had fallen. Some of them are not accurate, and they have since caused controversy. Native Americans have wondered where the markers for their fallen have been. In recent years, a few markers have been placed for killed warriors.

This post is not about the inaccuracies or the controversy. It is about the effect. For me, the markers make the battle seem like it happened a few days ago. I can scan the battlefield and see where people fell. I can see where some made a stand and others died alone. I can look at the markers and see the battle in my mind. I can listen to the wind and hear the sounds of the fight.

Civil War battlefields do not provide the same effect for me. I can study a battle and know the troop movements, but the land looks like a peaceful field. At Little Bighorn, the individual markers remind me that blood was shed on the expanse.

A few years ago, I went to the battlefield with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We stood on Last Stand Hill, where Custer’s body was discovered, and my nephew filmed me talking about the battle. I looked over the landscape and pointed to where everything happened. I provided accounts from warriors and military records. It was a thrill to be able to do that on site.

When I finished, I turned around to find a busload of people listening to me. Apparently, I had drawn a crowd. I answered a lot of questions, but I really wanted to tell them to look at the markers. They are why I have read so much about the battle. They are the genesis for why I studied the American West. For me, they are what makes Little Bighorn a spiritual place.