I've come to accept that aggression and violence must be part of the human condition. After all, look at stories and histories down the ages, right from the beginning, i.e., Cain slew Abel. Maybe we needed that brutal streak to guard or feed our families.
From this bias, I'd be unlikely to wax enthusiastic about a military facility, but here I am, touting Fort Robinson. Now a state park in Nebraska, it was an active post from 1874 (first as a camp, then with permanent buildings) until after WW II. These days, although many structures remain, together with a smattering of horses that remind visitors of the Fort’s equine prominence, it’s become a recreational area, perfect for families to run wild and those seeking a retreat from everyday busy, as well as a time capsule of Old West history.
As I peeked into the reproduced or renovated cabins and houses, saw where Chief Crazy Horse received his death blow from a bayonet in the back, imagined the thousands of dogs trained for military during WW II, and walked the paths of a German POW camp between now-vanished barracks, I was struck over and over by the similarities among all the people who’d lived here more than the hegemony* the US government exercised. The Indian women who managed to escape during the 1879 debacle with their children had much in common with the military wives who feared losing their husbands to violence and their children to illnesses. The German soldiers held to a routine almost identical to the Americans’.
Fort Robinson is the perfect place to ponder these questions. You can bed down in the old enlisted men’s quarters in simply furnished but immaculate rooms. Walks or rides or biking let you contemplate nature and just how tiny our struggles seem next to the wide Nebraska skies and variegated greens of grass, evergreens, and shrubs.
I wish I could have packed Fort Robinson’s time and space for musing to my everyday life.
* Hegemony: domination, preponderant influence, or authority over others.