When I walk at Sand Creek today, I step carefully.
My size ten and a halves sink into the sand. Where there is grass or plants, Canadian thistle or tamarisk or sage or some other one of the numerous types of grass and plants at Sand Creek, it catches my clod hoppers, just before they sink into the sand.
Stepping beside the gnarled and stately cottonwood trees, roots feel hard under my Reeboks. The roots catch my feet, perhaps, like guardian angels, but yet, possibly parts of human remains. I know not where to take the next step, or how.
I fear that I will step on someone who died here, whose remains are permanent parts of the sand, the grass, and the trees. I wonder if I am walking in the buffalo wallow where this woman died. I step carefully because I feel the people who died here reaching out for me and I can’t see or hear them. I don’t know how to help them. I feel their presence, their fear, their terror, their disbelief, their helplessness to save their children, their husbands and wives, their disabled relatives, their parents and their grandparents.
Just like when I sat on a curb at Ground Zero in Manhattan two weeks after 9/11, I grieve for them. I grieve for myself. I grieve because I am alive and they died agonizing deaths. I grieve because I am helpless to give something to these victims to neutralize their agony, perhaps even, to reverse their deaths.
I turn and scan the horizon. It appears like it is overlooking the Sand Creek Massacre Site. Somehow, it makes me feel better, at the least, for the moment. Then, I have to move forward. I look down and wonder, where should I place my foot next?
~Donald L. Vasicek, Writer/Filmmaker, Olympus Films+, LLC