Sat Nam. The Custer of American history is a true war hero, not the myth or legend created after 1933 when his widow finally left her earthly body four days before her 91st birthday. No, the Custer I know grew up in Ohio, a blacksmith's son.
POINTS TO PONDER
. George Armstrong Custer was born on a farm in northeastern Ohio on December 5th, 1839.
. Custer was promoted to Brigadier General at age 23 and commanded the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th Michigan Cavalry Regiments, making up the Michigan Brigade.
. Custer was called Armstrong by most who knew him. His childhood name, Autie, was also his nick-name.
. At West Point Custer was called 'Fanny' because of his fair skin and boyish looks.
. Custer was also called 'Cinnamon' because he put the cinnamon oil in his hair. He wore his hair fairly long from 1863 to 66. Custer's hair was not blonde but strawberry blonde.
. Custer had freckles and piercing blue eyes.
. Custer was called 'Ol' Curly' by many of his men and was loved by his soldiers during the Civil War. After he was promoted to Brigadier General he wore a signature red silk cravat. Custer's men loved him so much, that like him, they also wore red ties, only made of wool instead of silk.
. In 1866, Congress downsized the U.S. Army to a small regimental outpost on the plains and Western frontier.
. Custer hunted down the Ku Klux Klan in Kentucky and Texas in 1865-66.
. Congress authorized four more regiments of Infantry and Cavalry to be added to the U.S. Army -- the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th. The 9th and 10th were all Black regiments.
. At this time Custer returned to his regular army rank of Captain. He was later offered the rank of full Colonel of the 9th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) but he turned it down.
. Custer then took command of the 7th U.S. Cavalry as a Lt. Colonel by default.
. Because he was a Civil War hero, internationally known, and served as a Major General, Custer would always be addressed as General.
I am perpetually worried every day
The pleasure of the cheerful cuckoo at noon is gone
He is likeYoung Aonghus
Like Conall Cearnach who breached defences
The youngest man (U.S. born), promoted to Brigadier General, is Galusha Pennypacker, in March 1865 (one month before the Civil War ended), at age 21. The Marquis de Layfayette was promoted to Brigadier General at age 19, but he was French. George A. Custer was promoted to Major General, U.S. Army, at age 24 (October 1864), and holds that record.
Sat Nam. This year, on my 67th birthday (2017), my daughter informed me that my oldest granddaughter asked her American history professor at Lane Community College if I could give a presentation on the Civil War.
She advised me that the professor previously had guest speakers that brought politics into the discussion so she was reluctant, but she would like to first see an outline. My presentation would be about what I’ve always presented to colleges, high schools, and middle schools. The subject, the “Boy General” of the American Civil War. So I immediately sent an outline, which Shivantar Kaur eventually gave it to her teacher.
Two weeks later my sweet grand-daughter called me to confirm what I already knew would be the response from her teacher. She said it was interesting but not what she wanted to cover. In other words, she's the stereotypical prejudiced teacher with at least a Masters Degree in history. She did not want an outside view of the Civil War. I told my grand-daughter it's okay.
I learned something valuable about how to relate to a professor of history, who herself was taught that George A. Custer was a villain that no American should be proud of, that he carried out genocide on the Native People of America at the time of the Civil War.
She (the professor) could have had a scholar of the American Civil War (me) sharing the story of one of the bravest and most victorious military leaders in American history, which I never got to share with her. I knew she would have prejudice but I didn’t help the cause. In the future, I will not only outline the subject, if requested, I will expose the ‘elephant in the room’, that Custer was a great soldier whose legacy was marred by the history, which was written after his beloved Libbie, his wife of 11 years, passed away on April 4th, 1933, a book written to discredit the life of the “Lion” who helped save the Union.
Even then, every American knew Custer as a hero until 1960s when America went to an undeclared war in Southeast Asia. The Native People (American Indians) could see what ‘White Eyes’ could not . This modern 20th Century racist war was driven by white Europeans, which reminded the Native Peoples of the “Plains War’s" of the 19th century. The Battlefield in Southeastern Montana, named for this Civil War hero, would now be known as the Little Bighorn Battlefield, instead of Custer Battlefield. So in the past 50 years Custer’s name has fallen into darkness in America. One day in his life, the day he died, had become his entire legacy.
I have spent the past 25 years, along with other historians, reminding Americans of the Custer we forgot! The hero of the great Civl War! The first to capture a Confederate Battle flag, the youngest at the time to be promoted to Brigadier General, the success of the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19th, 1864), which would help re-elect Abraham Lincoln to his second term. The Youngest Major General in American history at 24, and the officer who would receive the first flag of truce at the Appomattox Court House, April 9th, 1865. --
Sat Nam, Dear America, "Oh, say can you see?"
I've decided to give my very strong point of view (opinion) on Independence Day on the showing, the waving, the flying and buyer of the flag, called the Confederate Flag. I call it the "Starry Rectangular Red Rebel Flag". It's a long name, but I'm using it for educational reasons.
Today, we celebrate our Independence from Tyranny, Self-government, Liberty, courage and commitment to Union.
I propose a believable scenario...
A 25-year old couple, Karl and his sister (twins), were born in the U.S.A. in the 1990s. Their parents are from Berlin, born in Germany, grew up their, and they remember the stories of their parents during the war in Europe. The grandfather fought in the Wehrmacht Army (Nazi Army) defending the Third Reich. He was a POW, sent back to Tuskegee in Alabama, then released after the war. His brother (their great-uncle), a fighter pilot defending Berlin at the end of the war, was shot down by Tuskegee fighter pilots. (For those who don't know, Tuskegee airmen were all 'Black' college educated young men who set an incredible record defending U.S. bombing missions over Germany). But, I digress.
So your great-grandfather saved a made-from-wool Nazi flag as a family heirloom. Today, you are an American, the war is 70-plus years behind us. The Berlin Wall has been torn down in your young lifetime. You know about Nazi Concentration Camps in Poland, run by the S.S. and the Gestapo. But you have this German Heritage -- it's a relic. Do you bring it out to show your German heritage, your Aryan Pride? Do you run it up the pole?
One more thing, you live in Memphis, Tennessee, in a nice home on the Mississippi River. You're proud that you were born in the good ole U.S.A., but today is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence signing and you're tired of the guilt from what happened during World War II, so you take the old emblem of hate and 'White Supremacy" out, and run it up the pole, underneath the "Stars and Stripes'. You have a cook-out, eat hamburgers and French Fries (you are of German decent). You enjoy some Sauerkraut on your wieners (hot dogs) and all is right with you. You look up and smile, and the wind is blowing both banners, strongly. Then your neighbors ring your doorbell, a few more even call you on your cell.
Hey! What is that flag doing up on your flag pole? Don't you realize your neighbors are Jewish and many of their ancestors died in Nazi concentration camps. We know you are a decent guy, but it's harmful to our memory that this terrible emblem of a defeated enemy of Democracy is flying today, in our neighborhood. Please take it down! Please!
Okay, Karl! What do you do?
This is like the red Rebel Flag of defiance to a POTUS (Abraham Lincoln), and to a system that one day did abolish the commercial slave auctions. Does anybody tell the horrific stories of Black Americans in 'concentration camps' called Plantations? This is important to hear today. Important to millions of Americans, hundreds of millions?
Does Southern Heritage trump American virtues -- Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, One Nation, (Under G-O-D), with Liberty and Justice for all?
Does an old starry red, rectangular or square (Army of the Northern Virginia), Rebel Flag made in a country, which uses 'slave labor' (Communist China) to make your symbol of Southern Heritage really matter to you?
Or is it that you, in your heart really don't like, and feel superior to anyone that includes Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, First Peoples, Gays, Lesbians, all Protestants, all Roman Catholics, Greek and Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Farsi, Atheist? This Rebel Flag is your emblem of hate, your symbol of what you feel, deep inside?
These are the questions I ask of you, I am White. I am of White privilege, and come from White European lineage. I have blue eyes and I am a Sikh! I wear a turban! But of my American heritage and my awareness of our young, 239 year history, I know one thing -- Today is a really great day to remember that America stands for Equality and Justice, and we include everybody!
Sat Nam. Here, you will see the many versions of the U.S. Flags from 1775 until the present. The Confederate flag below, was used for only four years. When the Civil War ended in Appomattox, VA, and Durham, NC, all battle flags of the Southern Confederation* were folded and surrendered. BTW: These flags were all made of wool.
The real American history is that the South lost, but they still are Americans, forever. The South never gained steam. Their Confederacy lasted for 4 years and that is only because English traders supplied the South with British Enfields. They took over Federal arsenals in Virginia and fired on Federal forts. They didn't withdraw from the Union peacefully.
They have corrupted American history. They rewrote the history after 1865. They called it the "lost cause"! They have gotten away with this because "racist bigotry" exist across the nation. It's a disease like cancer. I call it 'Racist Zombie Virus'!
It won't die unless we treat it with an antidotal cure. Anyone can be infected. It's time to rid the disease from the nation's flags, streets, avenues, unless they are museums or living museums like Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Appomattox, and so forth. Then the real history, including the flags, should be told.
The Federal Colors until after WW II were made of a blend of linen and wool or silk. After the Civil War no one much saw the red, stars and bars, rebel battle flag above, until it started appearing in the South in 1948, in 1954 (after Brown vs. Board of Education), again in 1962 (after the integration of Ole Miss), and again in 1967 (after Loving vs. Virginia). Flying the rebel battle flag has only one purpose. Everybody knows what that is.
People say, slavery, and the slave trade was born on ships flying the Stars and Stripes. This is true, as America inherited the legacy of Great Britain. However, the U.S. Flag has evolved through the ending of slavery, the civil rights of women, and African Americans gaining suffrage. It continued to evolve from the two World Wars, through racist acts towards Japanese Americans, the integration of the military, the birth of professional and collegiate athletics, the Civil Rights movement, and Equal Rights for LGBT. And it will continue to evolve.
The Rebel Flag still has 13 secessionist stars and still stands for only one thing.
*NOTE: The Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy, was the government created by the 11 Southern States of the United States after they seceded from the Union. The Union refused to recognize the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia served as president and vice president, respectively, of the Confederacy. Four other slave States—Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—remained in the Union. The latter two were actually represented on the Confederate flag, which, like the Stars and Stripes, featured a star for every State.
Confederate Southern Cross Flag
Whereas the U.S. flag has evolved. Under it good and terrible atrocities have been done towards Native People, African slaves, women, gays and lesbians. Most of the atrocities committed were under a "red, white, and blue" banner (the Union Jack).
Union Jack Flag
The difference is the U.S. flag keeps evolving. It represents the struggle for the Nation to be a more perfect union. Yes, under this U.S. flag, racism has flourished and the Confederate battle flag and the Nazi flag have been allowed to fly and people who hate have their 1st Amendment Rights.
Grand Union Flag
35 Star Flag
But under this evolution of the U.S. flag, Grand Union Flag, Independence was won, Blacks were given freedom and equality (13th Amendment, 1865). Under another U.S. flag, women fought to gain Suffrage. Under another flag (48 stars) the U.S. helped Europe and the world defeat Fascism.
48 Star Flag
Under a (50 star) flag, a man walked on the Moon. Under the (50 star) flag, an African American was elected two terms to live in a House built by Slaves.
50 Star Flag
America is always about "Change" and "Hope", whereas the 'Rebel Battle flag' is about oppression, White Supremacy, the heritage of a tribe, not the American people. This heritage is cloaked in white linen and suits, it's a secret society and secret board meetings. It represents the past and its past is nothing but ugly. -- SatHanuman Singh Khalsa
The Confederate Declaration
Sat Nam. Below is the Declaration of Secession by the 2nd State to separate from the Union in 1861 - Mississippi. The State which today, 154 years ago is the only Southern State with obvious reference to its "southern heritage". That Southern Pride/Heritage created the Ku Klux Klan (founded in Palaski, Tenn, December, 1865) and evolved into to the Council of Conservative Citizens (founded in Atlanta, GA 1988). Now relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.
The State of Florida has its remnants more subtlety embedded in the State flag Georgia took out the "rebel flag" and replaced it with Confederate National pattern (the Stars and Bars).
Florida State Flag
The Alabama State flag similarly reflects the (Scottish Cross of St. Andrew) Southern Cross.
Alabama State Flag
Tennessee's flag has a rebel reference as well but even more subtle.
Tennessee State Flag
How ironic, a nation, which is 239 years old this past 7/4/15, and 150 years since the end of the Civil War could not even discus these issues over the past 4 years and yet, the year is 1/2 over and the ugly stain of bigotry still infects the American psyche.
Might the Divine be directly engaging each of us to confront our insecurities, our fears, phobias and illusions?
We are an insecure not independent nation. We say we are the "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave"!
I see a nation afraid to confront its past, minds enslaved by greed, by pride. We fear outside attacks from evil Muslim terror groups but cannot confront domestic terror which is threatening to tear us apart.
This is lead today, not by the Churches of the Deep South, but by Fox News and its pretty sultry women which allure White men to fantasize like sailors at sea drawn to their death by the seductive voices of Sirens. They are seduced by Maya and her rhetoric which pollutes the weak mind.
The saddest part is these insecure White males are fathering daughters and married to insecure White females. They both hide behind religious freedom like the 2nd Amendment which makes them feel power.
We must press forward and shine the Light where darkness lingers. It's the last throws of the Piscean Age. (See Signs of Kali Yuga.)
The Mississippi Statement of Secession of January 9, 1861
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery -- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the Earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the Black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin." -- SatHanuman Singh Khalsa
July 21, 2015
To: Siri Singh Sahib Corporation,
Sat Nam, Sangat Ji!
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
I wish to address the situation in Boulder, Colorado, as I have witnessed it. I write this commentary as Mukhia Jethedar, appointed in the spring of 1998 by Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa.
In my capacity as Jethedar, I have taken upon the Seva, Protocol, and Protection of the Shabd Guru. I served from 1998 in New England until October 2005 when I relocated to Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. While living in New England, I worked to unite the New England Sangats as one Sangat. After 9/11, I organized community events in Millis, MA, and represented the Sikh Community in Boston to honor the passengers and crews of United Flight 93 and American Airlines Flight 587 in 2001. I brought the Christian and Jewish Communities together with the Sikh communities, and thanks to the work of Siri Singh Sahib Ji, I got strong support from U.S. Congressman Barney Frank and even the World War II veterans in Millis, whom I served for two years as Chaplain.
This is what I request of Sikh Dharma of Colorado, New Mexico, and their various boards. As I see it, the issue is NOT one man who has lived in Guru Amardas Niwas, or the Sevadars who care for the Guru Sahib. The issue is the Guru.
I have observed a sort of Sikhi illiteracy in some communities. I am referring to the overlapping and intermingling of Kundalini Yoga, Teacher Training and other 3HO activities in the same space as the Guru Sahib. This is not proper respect for the "Living Guru" of the Khalsa.
When a building or buildings are owned by Sikh Dharma, as Sikhs (the Khalsa Panth) we need to respectfully care first for Guru, the Living Shabd Guru Sahib.
I have heard that Drasan Singh, the man who has lived at Guru Amardas Niwas for several years has been a challenge for some folks to deal with. Okay, this may be so. He is a very strong personality. But culturally and as I understand, spiritually, he is an Amritdhari Sikh. HE could have even once eaten meat, cut his Kesh, drank alcohol, but he knows that the Guru is his Guru.
The Shabd Guru belongs to all Sikhs, no matter their gender, their national origin, culture, or skin color. When I was told that Sikh Dharma was legally evicting him, my first response was what are you doing with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib? How are you treating the Guru Sahib? As it turned out, I never heard of anyone except Drasan Singh, Himmat Kaur, Akal Kaur taking care of the Guru first, in the proper manner. No one from Espanola, or Colorado, or Millis, for that matter seemed to know how to treat their Guru Sahib.
It is apparent that some folks, not all, are somewhat illiterate about Guru Sahib protocol and Seva. Some folks have the awareness, but it doesn't seem to be with leaders, except for the Bhai Sahiba, and I've not heard from her.
These are my observations of the Siri Singh Sahib Ji. The first Gurdwara created by him was at 1620 Pruess Road in Los Angeles. The second is in Espanola, where Mukhia Jethedar Singh Sahib Amrit Singh Khalsa serves as Chief Sevadar. Notice that in both cases the original names were Guru Ram Das Ashram. Yes, at first, like other Ashrams, e.g., Ahimsa Ashram in Washington, DC, the space was cramped and confined, but we did the best we could. We put up screens (Los Angeles) to separate the Guru and protect the sacred space around the Guru. We bulit or created Darbars and Gurdwaras that were separated from the Sadhana area, yoga classes, meditation courses and bhangara class activities. Ahimsa Ashram Sangat did the same, as did the Sangat in Sterling, VA.
I suggest that today we separate activities as is now done at Ram Das Puri, in Espanola, New Mexico, where Siri Singh Sahib Ji showed the way.
Those who've been to Amritsar know you cannot carry your shoes or sandals across the Parkarma at Darbar Sahib. We remove our shoes and cover our heads, if not wearing a Daastar, when we enter the court of the Guru. We keep our heads covered even in the Guru's Langar. For those of us who've been blessed to see where Guru Amar Das Ji drew water from the well at Goindwal and carried it 10 miles for Guru Angad Dev Ji to bathe. We've also seen whenever Guru is retired, all over the Punjab and at historic Darbars, Guru is carried to Gowindwal to be cremated. Our Guru is living! Guru is not just a book or scripture like the Koran, the Vedas, the Torah or the Christian Bible.
Whenever legal action is taken and the Guru Sahib is involved, we send a Panj to say Ardas, hear the Hukumnama, and eat Langar. WE then put Guru Sahib in Sukhasan, and carry it respectfully with Chori Sahib and Sevadars to a specific vehicle for transport to a Gurdwara where Guru Sahib is laid to rest in a bed made for a KING. We don't evict the inhabitants and send the Guru to a warehouse. This is the practice of true Sikhs of the Guru.
I am asking you to please consider these comments and avoid any unconscious behavior in the house of Guru Sahib in the future.
The Boulder property is now Sikh Dharma's, and Sikh Dharma of Colorado has the full responsibility to care for it, repair it, and/or sell it so a Kundalini Yoga Center (Teaching Training Center) can be acquired. I pray the Shabd Guru in Boulder is always placed first, and that the Sevadars attend and protect the Guru, and thereby fully represent the Legacy of the Siri Singh Sahib Ji while continuing to serve the Guru Sahib with devotion, love and respect.
Humbly and respectfully submitted,
July 26, 2015
To My White Friends Who See Tragedy in the Black
For the past few weeks, I've tried to avoid social media. I've heard many people say the same. Sometimes, it's just too exhausting. When I've had a long day, the last thing I want to do is scroll through my Facebook page and engage in intellectual debates about the systematic and social oppression of Black people in the United States. Generally, I have to start from the very beginning, with something along the lines of, "Here is why slavery is offensive." Sometimes I am perplexed by the number of people who will argue with that statement.
I've heard several people say, "Just ignore them! It's just one person. Everyone has an opinion." But what happens when that opinion manifests itself systematically in school systems and jail sentencing? What happens when people use those opinions to justify acts of hate? What happens when people who hold those opinions walk into a Black church and shoot down the very people who embraced them? (See Racism.)
Here's the thing. To walk past a Confederate flag and feel nothing, to cheer for the Redskins and not feel inferior, to watch how the media discusses Muslims as a monolithic group of violent people and not think twice, is a privilege. If you're tired of people talking about these issues, let's get rid of all the passive-aggressive institutional reminders of inferiority. It's unfair to say "stop talking about being Black," when I drive down roads named after Confederate soldiers who fought to keep me as a slave. The ability to ignore is a privilege. Closing my eyes to these issues is to deny the core of who I am.
The truth is, I love White people. I love all people - people of every color, shape, size, and sexual orientation. I went to all White elementary schools. I've gone to predominately White churches all my life. For the most part, I've always been embraced and accepted. When something terrible happens in a "White" community, I am compassionate. When something terrible happens in a "White" community, I sympathize. It breaks my heart. But for some reason, when tragedy strikes in a Black community, many of my White friends are silent. Your silence speaks volumes. It makes me feel sick. To those of you who are not silent, thank you. To those of you who care, I appreciate you.
To those of you on social media criticizing the movement to take down the Confederate flag, you have to understand why I can no longer call you my friend. It's not just "some overly sensitive Black people" who are offended by the Confederate flag. I am offended by the Confederate flag. Yes, I know that many people are just celebrating the fallen soldiers (who fought to keep me as a slave). No, I'm not "pro-Black" and "anti-White." I love you all, equally. No, I don't just like to complain. In fact, sometimes I think about how great it would be not to have been born Black in this country, and not have to carry the burden that comes along with being socially conscious. No, I don't hate you for your opinions. In fact, I pray for you when I go to sleep at night.
When you think of all the "Black people who are so offended and just like to complain," picture my face. Picture the face of your Black friends. Think of the hurt in my heart and the tears I cry when I feel like I can do everything right but still be seen as "inferior" because of my skin color. I have a legal degree from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, but I was reminded when Martese Johnson yelled out, "I go to UVA," before the White officers smashed his bloody face into the concrete, that my education is not protection. Think about how I start shaking when I see people wave the Confederate flag, then proceed to tell me I am acceptable, "because I am a different type of Black person, the exception." Why should I have to prove I am "different" to be accepted?
I am the same girl you sat next to in chorus class. I am the same girl who drove you home when you had no ride. I am the same girl you prayed with in youth group. I am the friendly Black girl you work with, the Black babysitter who cared for your children, and the same Black neighbor who waves hello every morning. What if I was shot in the church that day? What if it was my dead body on your television screen? The next time you think about these issues, don't think about them in the abstract. Don't think about them in a political framework. Make it personal. --
*NOTE: Kiara Imani Williams, J.D., is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia in 2011 with a major in political science, specifically focusing on politics in the media.
Let's do the math
July 27, 2015
There were an estimated 25 people of African descent, about 50-75 Latinos, 40-50 Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians, along with a small number of Indian Sikhs out of a reported total of 2,040 attendees.
Twenty-five darker toned people out of 2,040 attendees is a .012 percent ratio. Yoga is big internationally now, so there should be more diversity, including African-Americans, at every event, not less.
The concerns should be how many African-American attendees become Kundalini Yoga Teachers, sharing the 3HO technology with other African-Americans? And, whether the Solstice experience (which used to happen at Guru Ram Das Puri) is qualitatively touching their souls.
Asian attendees are not a great indicator of diversity. That's more or less a White on White comparison. If you compare a Community College "Comparative Religion" course vs. a "World Religion" course, the former is for show, the latter gives you a true learning experience of the Oneness and Unity of humankind's spiritual practices.
A better comparison would be the Hispanic (Latinos) attendees from Mexico or South America, but again 'class' and financial security remains an issue.
Please keep me posted, and Keep Up!
"Tribalism: Loyalty to a tribe, social group or gang
See SensitivitySummit.com. See Desmond Tutu's Plea To Israel.