Dear Rasmus and Maximus, I’m retired now and traveling around with Jim in the Grey Panther, our camper van. We both faced life limiting health challenges recently and know it is time– it is time to MAKE time to do what we love. The only sure thing is today. We travel on a loose schedule with a loose plan and take time to experience life. Sometimes the smallest plant or people encountered or scenery, or a sudden decision to take a side road, makes us glad to be alive. Occasionally we experience something that is so meaningful that we spend time thinking about it and learn all we can

There are two sites that we visited that are special—because one man at each place had an “impossible” dream and didn’t listen to naysayers. As the two of you get ready to launch yourself into the world, I want to share with you these impossible dreams for you to remember if you feel discouraged, or tired ,or doubtful when you pursue your own dreams to make the world a better place.


“She is the lead mare of a herd of wild horses that run the range. When people come to capture them, she leads t he herd in a run for safety. But trucks and helicopters drive the horses into the pens. Imprisoned behind barbed wire, the fire in the mare’s heart is reduced to embers.”

Wild mustangs roamed across the West in big, free herds until settlers, ranchers and farmers came west to settle. They had no use for the horses that roamed free, disrupting their herds, ranches and farms. Soon the horses were rounded up, loaded on trucks and taken miles away to government holding lots. The pens were crowded and some horses were sick. “Spirits broken, unwanted, either too old, too ugly, or too independent to qualify for the adoption program.”

In 1988, Dayton Hyde, a writer, WWII veteran, naturalist and author, originally from Michigan, saw the pens with the horses crammed together. He was so upset and his heart broke for the wild mustangs that had roamed free across the land. He had to do something. He couldn’t get the horses out of his mind. He had no money or fund raising experience. He began slowly talking to people about the horses. Hyde spent all of his time trying to convince the BLM, animal friendly groups and individuals to help. He was persistent and raised enough money for a down payment on a 11,000 acre sanctuary near Hot Springs, South Dakota, and convinced the Bureau of Land Management to send him its unadoptable wild horses.

It wasn’t easy. Money for food and animal care was hard to come by. But the example of one man eventually allowed the sanctuary to become a safe, healthy, wild place for the Mustangs.

Today, Hyde, 91 years old, still helps at the sanctuary. Seven hundred horses roam the 10,000 acres. Fund raising is critical to support the horses and allow them to roam free.

One man had a dream and knew he wanted to do something– he had to do something even though many people said it was impossible. Nothing stopped him, nothing discouraged him from making his dream come true.



Not far from Mt. Rushmore, is another monument, a private one, called Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the U.S. Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people

“One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.”

My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

Henry Standing Bear (“Mato Naji”), an Oglala Lakota chief and well-known statesman and elder in the Native American community, recruited and commissioned Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In October 1931, Luther Standing Bear, Henry’s older brother, wrote sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who was carving the heads of four American presidents at Mount Rushmore. Luther suggested that it would be “most fitting to have the face of Crazy Horse sculpted there. Crazy Horse is the real patriot of the Sioux tribe and the only one worthy to place by the side of Washington and Lincoln.” Borglum never replied. Thereafter, Henry Standing Bear began a campaign to have Borglum carve an image of Crazy Horse on Mt. Rushmore. In summer of 1935, Standing Bear, frustrated over the stalled Crazy Horse project, wrote to James H. Cook, long time friend of Chief Red Cloud, “I am struggling hopelessly with this because I am without funds, no employment and no assistance from any Indian or White.”

In 1939, Henry Standing Bear wrote to the Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who worked on Mount Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum. He informed the sculptor, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too Standing Bear also wrote a letter to Undersecretary Oscar Chapman of the Department of the Interior offering all his own fertile 900 acres in exchange for the barren mountain for the purpose of paying honor to Crazy Horse. The government responded positively and the National Forest Service, responsible for the land, agreed to grant a permit for the use of the land, with a commission to oversee the project. Standing Bear did not want government support for the monument and relied instead upon influential Americans interested in the welfare of the American Indian to privately fund the project.

In the spring of 1940, Ziolkowski spent three weeks with Standing Bear at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, discussing land ownership issues and learning about Crazy Horse and the Lakota way of life. According to Ziolkowski, “Standing Bear grew very angry when he spoke of the broken Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868). That was the one I’d read about in which the President promised the Black Hills would belong to the Indians forever. I remember how his old eyes flashed out of that dark mahogany face, then he would shake his head and fall silent for a long while.”

Standing Bear explained that the Indian has a concept of honoring their great heroes that’s totally different from the white man’s. It was difficult for me to understand at first…The Indian uses the direct approach. He says: that man was my ancestor, and he was a great man, so we should honor him-I would not lie or cheat because I am his blood.” Ziolkowski

Ziolkowsi began the work alone, building his model and then chipping away at the rock There wasn’t money to hire help and so he worked tirelessly long hours, day after day.. The monument, of Crazy Horse on a horse pointing to his lands, is so big that Mt Rushmore could fit under his outstretched arm. Eventually, he married, had ten children who all helped with the work as they grew up. Eventually as fund raising began, men were hired to work on the monument. When the sculptor died, his wife took over project management. Soon a private, nonprofit board was formed to help manage the project and raise funds. Several buildings have been built with others clearly outlined in the plan. It is meant to celebrate all Native Americans and craft examples from many tribes are displayed as well as those for purchase in the gift shop. The pride of the young people working there is clear. They are the ones that will carry Crazy Horse into the future, carrying on the dream of Chief Sitting Bull and Ziolkowski.

Can you imagine how impossible this project was? A monument so big, Mt. Rushmore fits under the arm of Crazy Horse. Somehow an American Indian convinced a Polish sculptor to take on the project with no money for the project. The sculptor became so dedicated, he worked alone chipping away at the mountain until there was money for equipment and workers. This impossible partnership of these two individuals took a long time, but they succeeded.

So, dear grandsons, I wish you many impossible dreams that come true. Love, Nana



  1. MJ Brennan says:

    Well said!

    On Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 11:02 PM, The Grey Panther wrote:

    > cdecourtney posted: ” Dear Rasmus and Maximus, I’m retired now and > traveling around with Jim in the Grey Panther, our camper van. We both > faced life limiting health challenges recently and know it is time– it is > time to MAKE time to do what we love. The only sure thing is t” >


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