With all the stuff America is going through lately, you'd almost think it was cursed for, oh, I don't know, maybe savagely massacring the original residents of this land and destroying their sacred burial grounds, slaughtering women and babies, and other assorted atrocities.
The difference between "discovering a new land" and "invading" one, primarily has to do with whether people are already living there or not, a fact lost on the average white person.
We can't go back and resurrect the people who were killed.
But we can stop glorifying that history.
In 1890, after the 7th U.S. Cavalry division slaughtered hundreds of unarmed Lakota, mostly women and children, at Wounded Knee Creek, the U.S. government awarded 20 soldiers with the highest form of recognition, the Medal of Honor.
Gen. L. W. Colby of Nebraska State Troops Holding Baby Girl, Zintkala Nuni (Little Lost Bird), Found On Wounded Knee Battlefield, South Dakota, 1890 n.d.
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Army General Nelson A. Miles, then the commanding officer of the Army's Division of the Missouri, was a man of honor who spoke of the atrocity of Wounded Knee "at the time and again and again through the rest of his life."
"Wholesale massacre occurred and I have never heard of a more brutal, cold-blooded massacre than that at Wounded Knee." Miles wrote further of women killed 'with little children on their backs, and small children powder-burned by the men who killed them being so near as to burn the flesh and clothing with the powder of their guns, and nursing babes with five bullet holes through them.- Army General Nelson A. Miles
We can't undo most of that horrific past, but there is one piece of it that can be undone:
First Americans have asked for these Medals of Honor, given as rewards for genocide, be rescinded. This is especially poignant in the light of the fact that Native Americans have a history of service in our nation's military that is disproportionally much larger than their percentage of the overall population.
In the scales of injustice, rescinding medals is a small thing, yet powerful with symbolic meaning and intent.
And not only does it take a step toward righting wrongs, it also allows the Medal of Honor to continue to retain its meaning for the others who have received the award honorably.
There are many things in life, especially now, that seem out of our control, but this is not one of them.
If you would like to participate in calling for Congress to take this step, you can sign a petition here.