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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
Corbin van den Berghe
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All photos © Kelly van den Berghe
A year ago July, Kelly van den Berghe contacted me by email asking if Iíd be willing to correspond with her 13 year old son, Corbin, about Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. She informed me that Corbin had an undying interest in the story and wanted to learn as much as he could.
There were other personal reasons for this request that touched my heart; and even though my time was limited, I wanted to help. I did request one thing from Corbin; I asked that he try to find the answers to his questions before asking me. And I warned him that I would definitely not have all the answers to his questions.
For the last year Iíve seen Corbinís interest expand from Custer and the Little Bighorn to the Civil War and the Plains Indian Wars in general. He also has a great talent for taking in a lot of information, analyzing it, and then writing a succinct synopsis.
I found that Kelly and Corbinís dad, Lex, were very involved parents. It wasnít long before Kelly contacted me with questions about visiting the battlefield. They wanted to take Corbin there. They were also interested in attending the Friends functions over the 130th but they couldnít work it out logistically. However, theyíd be able to make it a couple of weeks later.
Corbin was so excited about finally visiting the battlefield that I thought he might burst. He hoped he might be able to get close to some of the markers on the field. I advised Kelly that many were not accessible because they were off the trails, however they would find some very close on the Keogh Trail.
From the reports Iíve received from Kelly, Lex, and Corbin, it was a trip that none of them would forget. I advised them to see if Park Ranger Mike Donahue would be giving a battle talk during their visit and if so, to be sure to attend. It turned out they could. Mike answered a lot of questions from Corbin, and treated the van den Berghe's like royalty. Of course, the rangers at Little Bighorn try to treat all visitors like royalty, however in Corbinís case, he felt extremely grateful of Mikeís attention.
Below are photos of one of the youngest and most fervent students of the Custer/Little Bighorn Battle story Iíve ever known. Iím proud to have Corbin as part of the Friends group.
July 23, 2006
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022