“We are all human,” said Taos Pueblo War Chief Curtis Sandoval, speaking to a crowd gathered on Veteran’s Day at the dedication of a memorial in honor of those from the pueblo who served.
Sandoval went on to remind those of us gathered for the event that what has made the United States great was the nation’s ability to set aside differences and come together. Together, he said, we remain strong. But if we let division drive us apart, as a community, as a nation, then we fail.
The irony of his wise words weren’t lost on those at the ceremony. The Taos Pueblo Veterans Living Memorial stands on land where Taos Pueblo people have lived for centuries, where they have fought to protect their homeland from incursions by three different governments, including the United States. Yet Curtis and other officials at the ceremony called for unity to preserve the broader democratic nation, one which their people too – more than 300 of them – have spilled blood to protect. Even before they were allowed to vote as citizens, they fought and died beside men on many battlefields who didn’t look like them, share their religion or understand their language. They fought as Americans.
Now, not perhaps since the 1960s, have so many different voices sought to tear the United States apart, not from without, but from within. Scenes of white nationalists and neo-Nazis marching, of statues toppling or being vandalized, might seem far removed from Taos. But the racism, anger and divisive intent they represent can spread, even to a small multicultural mountain town. Questa’s post office was recently spray painted with swastikas, Nazi-style. And when the duly elected president of the country does little to try and stop the spread of hate, when he fails to act as a unifying voice, the impact ripples all the way to a small pueblo where people gathered to honor veterans who died for the country he is supposed to represent.
Writing in Politico recently, Theordore R. Johnson, a black Navy veteran from Northern Virginia, put it this way in his essay: “Either the United States will be preserved and made more perfect by those who believe it can be the world’s largest multiracial democratic republic bound together by a notion of equal access to our founding ideals, or we will squander the opportunity and the republic will slip through our grasp.”
Americans, including people in the Taos Valley, come from different cultures, religions, ideologies, political persuasions. Sometimes those differences can seem unbridgeable. Where to start? Perhaps with the thing we all share, as War Chief Sandoval noted: “We are all human.”
Co-op calls out to millennials
Kudos to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative for taking action to find out what young people in Taos want in terms of jobs, the economy and more. The utility hosted a meeting for the 20-something-year-olds in town Nov. 14. The 20 or so young adults who showed up at the meeting, attended by our own millennial reporter Jesse Moya, shared ideas and strategized about the kind of work that might keep young blood in this historic, tradition-steeped town. They’ve already scheduled the next meeting.
They didn’t wait for a committee or look to someone else to craft their future. The co-op provided them with the space and invitation to meet. They are bringing the brain-storming energy. We hope they’ll stick with it. We’re excited to see what grows out of this little group and we hope more young people will join in the discussion.