Heading East – Montana & Custer’s Last Stand & Family Stuff

OKAY, OKAY!  We’ve been out of it for awhile – sorry.  Anyway we visited Cousin Brad in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then headed for Massachusetts and had an attack of laziness which was then over ridden with a million things to do- so the finish of the previous journey on this blog, is well in to the start of the subsequent  expedition which we are currently on.

So here’s what happened … On the way to visit Ric’s cousin Brad in Sioux Falls, South Dakota we came upon signs for the Little Big Horn – who the hell could pass that up?

On site diorama depicting the hill top battle – if I was a better photographer you might think you were there!

One of the ranger’s did a terrific presentation, loaded with unknown (to us!) lore and facts – he really brought the battle to life as we sat in the outside amphitheater and he pointed out where the combatants were, how they were moving, and what their perception of the situation was. If you ever visit here – do not miss that part of the experience – these rangers know their stuff! Did you know that one of the reason’s Custer lost his life was because he split his forces and … well, why should you accept my story when the whole thing can be read right here at the official site:  http://www.nps.gov/libi/historyculture/index.htm

The battlefield site itself has a large monument, under which all of the non-commissioned soldiers are buried in a mass grave. There is also a marker where each dead Soldier or Indian was found when it was all over. The soldiers were initially buried where they were found but were later relocated around and under the monument.

They used white markers for the Cavalry and red markers for the Indians – the handling of the history seems very well done to me – portraying the Indians’ struggle to maintain their way of life, quite fairly as just that – for the most part our ancesters were not honorable in their relations and dealings with Indian peoples.

Soldier casualty markers.

Where Custer died - or at least was found.

On the Monument at the top of the hill there was this plaque.

Indian casualty markers

Equestrians and animal lovers, will gain some peace (?) in knowing that the horses that died in the battle were also memorialized. Their final act in service to their soldiers was to become bulwarks against the withering Indian fire.

War Horse Cemetery Marker

A whole other area - just slightly apart, or rather at the edge of the battle site, is dedicated to an Indian Monument, where each tribe is represented by individual interpretive panels. This incredible iron art work graces the boundary wall of the monument.

I never knew there was a National Cemetery for Veterans at this National Monument – I saw head stones for Veterans from every war.

This sign is at the entrance to the National Cemetery at Little Bighorn

Not mentioned on the above plaque are the many Vietnam Veterans buried here. I did not see any Veterans of Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, or the fight in Afghanistan, but I’m sure it is only a matter of time (if there are not some there already) before  find their way to this hallowed ground.

If you visit, don’t miss the displays inside  – these folks worked hard and have created a lasting testament to what happened on this spot.

A Sioux Warrior - I'm no expert but I'll bet this is more ceremonial, than war clothing

A Seventh Cavalryman - Nothing like our boys look today!

When and if you come to this place, try to find a quiet spot where you can sit and commune with the ghosts of this incredible encounter.  Some will feel horror, some will feel peace, while others will feel a connection with some of the most elemental of human feelings and gain understanding of what it must have been like…

Ric’s cousin Brad Morgan, doesn’t live that far from this place – one can actually see the filming location of “Dances With Wolves” from the edge of his 30 acre domain. We wanted to see Brad as it had been around 60 years (!) and also needed a rest after a long and rare adventure  – Brad and Barbara (who we only got to see for a short while as she had to make a scheduled flight to visit her kids!) offered their home as short time haven. Thanks Cousin Brad, it was great to see and visit with you!!

Finally – on an even more personal note, Ric’s nephew, Michael Parker, up there in Northern Vermont is fighting for his life against cancer. The family would welcome your prayers, energy and healing thoughts.

They are also fund raising to help defray the cost of family travel and loss of work time to provide constant care as Mike goes through Chemo and Radiation for the second time, at the Sloan-Kettering cancer center in New York. He has been fighting off an infection from having the lymph nodes in his neck removed just a few weeks before the holidays in order to be able to qualify for the program. If you have the means and can send even the smallest donation (payable to: “The Parker Hope Foundation”) please send it to:

The Parker Hope Foundation

  c/o Church of the Rock

 PO Box 313

 1091 Fairfax Rd.

St. Albans, VT 05478

Should you have any questions regarding Michael’s progress or the Foundation itself, call 802-524-9644

1 Comment

Filed under Alaska Journal, Family

One response to “Heading East – Montana & Custer’s Last Stand & Family Stuff

  1. Amy

    Great to hear from you! Prayers for Ric’s cousin. Just put this on my ‘to-do’ list of places I want to visit. 😉

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