October 18, 2018

Apologies

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“Never apologize and never explain.” –John Wayne

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Duke’s words that were spoken during the John Ford film “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” live beyond the grave. Like cheap gasoline, truthful politicians, and well-mannered people, those rarest of words, “I’m sorry. Please accept my apology,” are fading into memory’s mists.

Some may think it is too soon to acknowledge their passing. Not so, gentle reader, not so. Even a crack Special Excentric Task Force was tardy in uncovering this megatrend. Never again will it rent space in Fort Sedona at the “Y”; it was too lonely to get any digging down there.

Some work was done, however, patient reader. Consider the events unfolding in California, Illinois and Michigan. Teachers in some of the better schools in those states have been caught cheating. Yes, that is truly true.

To boost test scores, teachers have been caught altering thousands of student answers by erasing them or filling in unanswered questions themselves. In Chicago, to name one example, in order to look good to their bosses, fully 5% of the teachers in the system’s 40,000 classrooms were caught cheating.

So? To date, parents have not received one apology.

Is that really unusual? Truth be known, no one has apologized yet for Vietnam, the Santa Barbara oil spill or the clear-cutting of Montana’s timberlands. More truth be known: no one has apologized for poisoning the Hudson River, for leaving nuclear waste along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah or for fire-bombing Dresden.

In fairness, however, it must be reported that Michael Milken, King of the Junk Bonds, delivered a tearful apology for bilking investors of their life savings. But before any cheering erupts, let it be said that no one has ever apologized for murdering Crazy Horse, the Ogallala Lakota holy man turned warrior.

On September 5, 1877, the 37-year-old warrior walked into Fort Robinson on the Missouri under a white flag. His words were incorrectly translated by an US Army interpreter. The warrior did not say, as some history books have it, “I have come here to kill all the round-eyes.” His actual words were, “I came here for peace. I am tired of war and talking of war.” Moments later, he was stabbed in the back with a US Army bayonet.

History books also tell us that the official military death report concluded that the warrior, who had whipped Custer and Crook in the space of eight days, had stabbed himself to death. Another report filed a few years later concluded that Crazy Horse had not been captured.

During those bloody years, many Indian chiefs were transformed into legends, but none more so than the slim, light-skinned warrior in blue leggings, a red-backed hawk on his head and a white lightning streak on his cheek: Crazy Horse. Anyone who has researched this amazing man’s life have come away amazed. Here was someone who remained himself from the moment of his birth to the morning he was murdered. While he did surrender, he was never defeated in battle against the long guns of the Blue Coats and the Golden Hairs.

He is celebrated today because of his dislike of manifest destiny and of encroaching civilization, which was so prophetic; because he didn’t spend the rest of his life in the Dry Tortugas when General (“the only good Indian is a dead Indian”) Sheridan wanted to send him there; because he never wore a top hat or a medal as Sitting Bull did; because he made sure that his wife was safe before going to the Fort when a dream told him that he’d die there; because he was brave, even when deprived of his freedom, power and religion; and because he always fought in self-defense.

Please, Mr. President. If the Germans and the Russians can ask forgiveness, why not resurrect the idea in America of apologizing when situations explode into chaos? If not, then at least the US should apologize to the great chief’s kin. Or does the US government still insist that he killed himself?

In the meantime, if that is not possible, then all the citizens who didn’t vote in the last presidential election¬†should apologize to somebody because Arlington Cemetery is running out of gravesites again and no one is to blame.

If the last paragraph seems too eccentric even for the Excentric, I’m sorry, but there is no way I’m going to apologize.

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