The next trip Ahnya and I took was to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Pompeys Pillar. “Pomp” was the nickname for Baptiste Charbonneau, Sacagawea’s son, that you can see on the dollar coin.
I only have a few pictures from that trip(and at least right now wordpress has switched how the post is made, and I hate it- save draft and edit through dashboard for anyone else finding this), but more thoughts. Other places that we/I have visited recently also tie in with Little Bighorn. We live really close to Fort Phil Kearny and while I have hunted the walk-in area near the Fetterman Monument, this year is the first that we visited the fort. We had learned quite a bit about Red Cloud in our visit to Agate Fossil Beds NM this spring, and also had been to Fort Laramie on that trip- which makes the ride of Portugee Phillips seem even more incredible. After all of these experiences, I also swung by Rosebud Battlefield State Park while ingressing one day.
Within that context, the 4th of July brings a mix of emotions. First, I love America and feel lucky to live in it. Every Sunday I am freely able to go to church and enjoy fellowship, study God’s word and rejoice in song. At the same time, those that do not chose to are free to do with the day as they wish. That freedom is not present in every country. To go to something like Mount Rushmore, as Ahnya and I did late May, and not feel pride in America would be hard. They also recognize all of the veterans or currently active military at the presentation, which powerfully brings forth the reminder that “freedom isn’t free”
Last year I wrote about the power of being at Arlington, and Little Bighorn also has a national cemetary, as well as markers spread throughout the park where soldiers and warriors died during the battle. I am not sure if it has always been that way, but the park showcases the events leading up to Little Bighorn and losses by both sides. To quote Corb Lund from the song “horse soldier, horse soldier” (unofficial-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u04KA8eYwBg )
I’s with Custer and the 7th in 76 or 77
Scalped at Little Big Horn by the Sioux
And the tears and devastation of a once proud warrior nation
This I know cause I was riding with them too
There lies the mixed emotions. After fighting the tyranny of Britain and penning ‘self-evident’ words that “all men are created equal”, it took four-score and seven years and a war that almost tore our nation apart to even put an end to slavery- and the process to equality moved slowly even from that point. 100 years after our freedom we were still treating the native american tribes as inferior and using “manifest destiny” to take what we wanted.
There is nothing that we can do to change our history, both the proud and the shameful. The point of this post is not to wallow in the myriad of autorcities that our country has been a part of. With each of those, there are also American heroes that spoke up and fought against it. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and make sure that we do not allow those actions to repeat themselves. We also need to take these past actions into account when understanding why everyone does not view July 4th, or America, the same as us. Another song that can highlight some of these feelings would be Don Edwards “The Freedom Song”. I will put a link to it, but can’t find a good version on youtube. I like the sound of my version better, and the babies have nothing to do with the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQn4lvASfSI&index=14&list=PLieRi_lSPlRrNv42rBfAQo7Yiqd1ocac0 . You can google search the lyrics if interested.
It’s not just America that has a spotted past, either. In the history of any people you will be able to find oppresion or war. It is not like all of the native american tribes lived peacefully side-by-side before colonization. England, and much of Europe, held many colonies long after the american revolution. Going back through time you can find conquest after conquest. So why is life on Eart like this? James explains it clearly in James 4 -“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from yourdesires for pleasure that war in your members?” I love the way that James extends the personal war we have in ourselves (between living for ourselves and worldly desires and living for God and others) to the confrontations that exist on Earth. The short book of James covers all the way from wars(4), to rich oppression(5), to showing favortism for personal gain(2), to controlling our tongue .The whole book is a study in how actions speak louder than words and prompts self-reflection on motivations (James 1:22-25).
To end with a few more song quotes “I’m proud to be an Amercian, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who dies, who gave that right to me.And I’d gladly stand up,Next to you and defend her still today.’Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E . While they may not have always “established justice” or “promoted the general welfare” due to human weakness, I do believe that our forefathers had the correct ideas and were thinking outside of themselves and of the nation. The attitude “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” was prevalent and follows the idea of James – are you doing for your own immediate benefit, or for something greater. (There was a time in our past when men would move to where the work was with ideas such as CCC instead of sitting at home and expecting a check- but that’s a whole other issue) . If your pride in America is based on these ideals and the desire to extend this freedom to all, then I am with you. If you use American “pride” to hold others down and justify mistreatment as has been done in the past, then I can not agree. Pride as a source of strength is great, but pride as an excuse or weapon is not. From No Use For A Name “I refuse to build the wall by adding my own bricks that separate us all” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxvnFh6l_H0
You see, being an American and being Christian makes me no better than anyone else in and of itself. “There is good and bad, in everyone”(Stevie Wonder). Being an American makes me fortunate and free, not better. Being saved is something that was a gift only by grace, which also provides me freedom(Romans 8:2). But grace comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17). Fortunately for me, I was born in a free country to a family that taught me the word.
So take a moment to reflect on your life. Are there things you are doing that hurt others? Are there things you aren’t doing that can benefit others? What can you do for your country? Are you doing His will?
1 John 2:16-17 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.