Monday, December 26, 2016

It's All I've Ever Wanted - Standing Rock Edition

We are on the road, and I am filled with gratitude.

I am thankful for my family - extended, by blood, by friendship, and by progeny. These are the people in my life who make me a better me. I want to thank Joy, Merilee, Sharon, Jill, Gary, Beau and Miki, Katie, Britt, and Amanda and Nolan. I want to thank everyone who has written us words of encouragement and hope.

Today we started with Sunrise in Utah

We had Sunset in Wyoming

It was well after dark before we made it to our stop in Chadron, Nebraska. Siri (in her best English Accent) estimated our trip at 9 hours. With a 45 minute lunch break, we made it in 12. 

When I first proposed #DokshaStandingRock to my family as an alternative to Christmas, my youngest had "reservations". He could do without the Christmas gifts, but what would he say at school when asked, "What did you get for Christmas?" And worse yet, what if he were asked to write an essay on what he got for Christmas? 

My response was, "You'll be able to write the best essay ever!" He didn't seem satisfied with that answer. so I acknowledged that our #DokshaStandingRock plan was not in the realm of normal, "But," I said, "Do you want to be like everyone else?"

His voice was soft, but sure, "It's all I've ever wanted."

Despite his common middle school complaint, he took the road less traveled with his family. Some of this road's conditions were sketchy. The worst was Wyoming Highway 20. The road had snow pack and ice. And to make it even more of a challenge, the blowing snow took visibility down to zero in places. 

I was riding with my eldest son and his wife as we ironically passed Martin Cove and crossed over the Sweetwater river.  The irony being, we would have stopped it the wind hadn't been so biting cold. (For those who don't know the tale, the Martin Handcart Company was holed up in that cove for five days trying to wait out an early October blizzard. This was after they were soaked from crossing the Sweetwater river.) My daughter in law told me the story of three young men who died carrying pioneers across that river. Her story reminded me of a folk song written around that time involving men from Sanpete County (my parents hail from there).

Today is December 26, 2016. I am remembering the past. I am thinking of the Dakota 38 who were executed on this day in 1856 in Mankota, MN for protecting their homeland. I am remembering Big Foot's Band at Wounded Knee and the massacre of old men, women and children on December 29, 1890. I am remembering those who lost their lives crossing the great plains because the First Amendment protection of religious freedom did not apply to them. Remembering these things does not make me anti-American. 

It makes me a better American. It helps me understand who I am, what I have come from, and where I am going. It helps me understand that as America listens to the voice of those who have gone before -- as remembered by those who remain, she will gain strength in her honesty.

On a trip like this, it is the simple things like complimentary water and free public bathrooms that remind me how grateful I am for America and how my hopes and desires are wrapped up in her future.

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