"A survey of the disastrous battleground disclosed a dreadful slaughter."
"The suffering was heartrending."
"It is true...it is no excuse for their treachery and atrocities."
"The situation now looks serious."
These quotes were published in newspapers and magazines in the year 1876 after the disastrous Battle of the Little Bighorn. The news reached Americans on a wide-spread scale during the nation's Centennial celebration - a time when Americans were revelling in their nation's strength and achievements. What a shock it was to realize that a country being lauded for its endurance had suffered such a severe blow.
We don't have to imagine the grief that every American experienced on that day in 1876. Just two months after celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn - proclaiming "Peace, Unity, Friendship" - that shock once again resonated across America on September 11, 2001 as we watched images we'll never forget, hearing comments as chilling as those above.
It is lamentable that such calamitous occasions should occur, but they reveal how we as a nation are unified throughout history. Just as we erected a memorial at Ground Zero, monuments and memorials dot the landscape of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, declaring America's resolution to never forget. One such monument is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Custer Battlefield Museum. The granite tomb holds the remains of an unidentified 7th Cavalry trooper, whose skeleton was found fifty years after the battle was waged. The tomb and peace memorial were dedicated during the Burying the Hatchet Ceremony, with White Bull Sioux Indian and General Godfrey performing the ceremony before thousands of observers.
Today, the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the events of 9/11 came together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, when students from Lodge Grass High School hung their 9/11-themed artwork on the monument. Forty-seven original creations adorned the tomb and peace memorial. Unlike the grave statements above, the students' words and images express reverence and a fresh hope:
"United we stand."
"God bless America."