The darkness of the prairie

Before Mike and I flew back to South Dakota, we had time to tour Arlington National Cemetery. We stopped as a funeral Procession passed us by, the casket resting on a horse-drawn caisson. We were told across the country WWII veterans are dying at a rate of about 1500 each day. Veterans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan are also coming here for their final resting place. So much history starting with Civil War dead! The sailors who perished on the Maine during the Spanish-American War. Nurses killed in action. Civil Rights pioneer Medgar Evers. Korea and Viet Nam vets. Supreme court justices. The graves of the three Kennedy brothers. The astronauts from the Space Shuttle Challenger. We paid our respects at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and watched the ritual changing of the guard. We climbed to Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House, which overlooks the Potomac and the whole District of Columbia.

In a matter of hours we are transported back into a different world. After our 15 seat plane from Denver to Pierre lands at the airport we drive 90 miles home. There are no bright lights, no sky scrapers, and fewer than a handful of cars and the darkness of the prairie. But there is more that unites us than divides us.

Whether it’s a huge national cemetery, or a hill far away on a lonely reservation, cemeteries always move me to deeper prayer, reflection, and admiration of people who went before us.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 89 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

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