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Biden’s “Last Stand”

August 20, 2021

When I was about thirteen years old I toured the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and viewed a necklace fashioned from the trigger fingers of Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s troops. The Smithsonian staff had expressed their outrage at the necklace by describing it as a “savage” act.

In late June in 1876, Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians defeated troops under the command of General Custer at the Little Bighorn River in Montana. Known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” the Indians, which we now know are “Native Americans,” celebrated their victory by making what we today would call a “Peace Necklace.”

The events in Kabul this week reminded me of a plague attached to a commercial building on Rio Road in Charlottesville, Virginia celebrating General Custer and General Philip Sheridan. The two, then-young, officers were reconnoitering a group of Confederate cavalry whom later that day Sheridan and Custer prepared to attack.

Phil Sheridan was only 5’2” but mounted on a horse Sheridan seemed at least 7 feet tall.

My favorite equestrian monument to Phil Sheridan is located at “Sheridan Circle” adjacent to several foreign embassies and a Chancery in the District of Columbia as if to say, “General Sheridan was a man of courage, and we have more like him.”

That statue commemorates a day when Sheridan charged into ranks of retreating and panicked Union troops and exhorted them to turn around and attack enemy troops who had briefly broken though Union lines. “Follow me,” he shouted.

Will the recent chaos in Kabul, Afghanistan be forever known as Biden’s “Last Stand” or will President Joe Biden direct his staff to chauffeur him to Sheridan’s Circle for a moment of prayer and necessary reflection?

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