Both LCDR John Charles Waldron and BMG George Armstrong Custer graduated from America’s elite military academies, the one from Annapolis, the other from West Point. Both are heavily associated with South Dakota. Both led units they commanded against a superior enemy and perished along with most of their men: Waldron at the Battle of Midway, Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Some might argue they plunged into the unknown without vital battlefield information, so were reckless and naive. Others assert that both men sacrificed themselves heroically for the greater good of their country.
When Custer fought against the Confederates at the Battle of Gettysburg, he witnessed an America that was divided by the bloody Civil War. How could he have known that in the 21st-century, his name would remain associated with similar political strife? Both Custer and Waldron would be asked to represent the racial profiles of adversaries in the Indian Wars, but now separated from their bands of brothers. Depending on political orientation, one side is sanctified, the other demonized. There is no middle ground. The same with Christopher Columbus.