Blog from President and CEO Mike Fichter: William Bratton, Crossing the Rockies, and Ending Abortion Forever

September 7, 2011

If you’re a longtime reader of my column, you may remember my recollections of searching for the final Hoosier resting place of John Shields, a member of Lewis and Clark’s Corp of Discovery. Most folks don’t realize that there are only 14 known burial sites for members of that famed expedition, and even fewer know that two of those are in Indiana.

The Shields burial site in southern Indiana is a tough one to locate. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find accurate directions unless you speak with someone who has been there. Even then, as in the case of asking me, you would probably end up more confused than informed.

But William Bratton is a different story. Bratton is buried in Waynetown, Indiana, in the Old Pioneer Cemetery that lies just off of the highway that runs right through the center of town. The small but picturesque cemetery is always well-groomed as a testimony to the respect and care that the community must hold for this sacred ground. The real problem is not in finding the cemetery, but in finding Waynetown. Mention the town’s name and most Hoosier eyes will glaze over. Mention that it’s just off of the interstate at an exit that leads to West Lafayette and at least Boilermaker fans start to perk up.

Whether anyone stops in Waynetown or not, William Bratton’s memorial stands silently near the center of the Old Pioneer Cemetery, weathered and scarred but proudly testifying to the legacy of one of Waynetown’s favorite sons. For those who do take a few minutes to search out the memorial, this is the inscription that is found: “Went with Lewis and Clark in 1804 to the Rocky Mountains”.

Here is what I find fascinating: Bratton and the Corps did not stop at the Rocky Mountains, they continued much farther West to the point where the Columbia River pours into the Pacific at the edge of what we now call the states of Oregon and Washington. So why does Bratton’s memorial focus on the Rocky Mountains? Why not the Pacific?

Its’ just a guess on my part, but I suggest that Bratton knew that it was the Rocky Mountains that presented the greatest obstacle on the Corps’ journey. It was the Rocky Mountains where they nearly froze to death, where they resorted to eating candles and horseflesh to survive, and where they found out they could take the punishment and keep going.

Bratton knew the Rockies had to be crossed. And he knew that when they were defeated, the rest of the journey was literally downhill.

Indiana ignited a national firestorm when it ended the flow of our tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. MSNBC doesn’t like it. Neither does the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and at least one federal judge. They understand what we understand – ending public funding for abortion is a barrier that once breached, will lead to the end of abortion in America.

We are crossing the Rockies and beckoning to the rest of the nation: follow our lead.

Sure, I write a lot about history because I really believe that our nation’s heritage is worth remembering. Now we are making history that others will write about when the tragedy of abortion is finally ended and no child needs to fear the womb.

William Bratton’s eternal memorial is that he crossed the Rocky Mountains. May it be said of us that our memorial is that we ended forever the inhumanity of abortion in America.

We just may be closer than any of us might dare to dream.


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