Legend of the Cherokee Rose

Legend of the Cherokee Rose
We lost everything. The white men wanted the Indian's removed, and so we
were Removed. We lost our homes, our sacred lands, our way of life. We were thrust
out by greed, and our hearts broke on the long, long journey west. We only had the few
precious belongings we could carry, and many of us were not even given time to fetch
that much from our homes before we were forced into camps and then marched west.
The weather turned cold, and still we marched, without adequate shelter, without
blankets. Our men were grim with anger and pain. Our children were crying
for comfort we could not give. Many were dying. And we Cherokee women, we
wept. Our hearts were broken. Our spirits were drowning in pain. Our hope was
gone. Such terrible grief made us neglect our families, our appearance. We were ready
to die rather than go another step.
Seeing our pain, the Elders gathered together and began praying that some
sign would come to ease the heart-numbing horror we felt at our loss, so that we might
once again care for our children, comfort their tears, and walk proudly beside our men
during this terrible journey. And the Elders were answered!
The very next morning as we began our long hard journey once again, we began to
see white roses growing along the trail. They seemed to have sprung up overnight, and
they were very beautiful. The petals of each rose were white like our tears. The center
was yellow like the gold the greedy white men took from our hills. And we
counted seven leaves on each stem -- just as there were seven clans in the Cherokee
nation! The sight of the roses brought a strange peace into the hearts of the Cherokee
women who saw them. There was a particularly large patch of them in the small glen
where many of us had sat weeping the previous night. I paused to pick one, and one of
the Elders stopped beside me and told me there was a rose for each team we had shed
during the journey. His words stayed with me as I took up my small parcel of
belongings, hurried my children into line, and set out behind my husband. A rose for
every tear. Could it be possible? In my heart, I already believed him.
It was a small wonder. A tiny miracle. But the best parts of our lives are made up of
small miracles and tiny wonders. It gave us heart. Though we suffered much in the rest
of the journey to Oklahoma Territory -- a journey later called the Trail of Tears -- and
though we lost many children along the way, somehow we had hope that a better day
was coming for the Cherokee. And so it has.
But the Cherokee rose continues to grow along the route of the trail today, as a
reminder of the past and a hope for our future.