For my Independence Day holiday this year, I decided, instead of fireworks and backyard barbecue, to make a pilgrimage to the spot where my great-grandmother died ... the site of the Sand Creek Massacre, in eastern Colorado. The Massacre occurred in November of 1864, when a force of 800 US Army Cavalry attacked a peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapahoe. The cavalry raped, slaughtered, and then mutilated about 200 defenseless women and children, leaving the bodies to rot and stink in the sun. My great-grandmother was one of them. I cannot even begin to tell you the emotions I felt as I walked along the bluff overlooking the site of the Native encampment along the banks of Sand Creek. Cottonwoods swayed gently in the breeze. The sweet song of meadowlarks drifted across the prairie. I could close my eyes and hear again the screams of the Native women as they pleaded for their lives and the lives of their children, only to be hacked to pieces by the soldiers. I could smell again the clouds of gunsmoke that fogged the air. Parts were sliced off the bodies, taken back to Denver, and put on display by the Colorado Territorial government as symbols of this "great victory". And I wept for the darkness in the human soul that allows men to do such a thing. Today is a day for remembering who we are, for remembering what it means to be American. As a civilization, there is much good inside us. We have accomplished many great things, contributed much to the advancement of the human species. But Sand Creek is part of who are, too. We must take responsibility for it. We must acknowledge that there are parts of our heritage that are as vile and despicable as anything in the history of the world. This, too, is what it means to be American.