Wednesday, January 2, 2008

1776 Revisited

My trip to my nephew’s wedding took me across Missouri into Kentucky nearly the full length of Tennessee and across the mountains into Asheville, North Carolina. Fully 12 hours of steady driving each way, it gave me plenty of time to think.

I spent a lot of that time listening to books on tape including the history of the American revolution from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the battles of Trenton and Princeton at the end of that year, battles that defeated the Hessian mercenaries and Cornwallis’ battalions and which most Americans think of as having decided the outcome of the war. Few of us though, remember that the war continued until the summer of 1783 before we finally emerged victorious.

We think of the revolution as a declaration, some editorials and a few battles then on to glorious manifest destiny. We don’t even remember the seven years of slogging warfare and brutal living conditions our forefathers endured in liberating our country from the clutches of an unjust and arrogant government.

We forget, too, that it wasn’t the high and mighty in their warm mansions that delivered this nation to its freedom. It was armies of young men who sacrificed even the comforts of a log cabin in the woods for a life of brutal cold, little food we would consider edible and the daily presence of death and illness who steadfastly carried the banner of liberty forward. It was Alexander Hamilton commanding the artillery. It was Thomas Paine fighting with the infantry. It was farmhands and boys, there were a few women in those fights, too, and African-American men who gave up their family lives as free men in the northern colonies who gave their all for the vision they thought of as their country while King George was still thinking of it as his.

Without the perseverance of George Washington and those loyal troops who stayed to carry on the fight for several years after their one year obligations had expired, this nation would not exist today. To them and all who in subsequent years have risked or given their lives to keep this country free, we each and all owe a debt of enormous gratitude. It is also in memory of them that we must keep at the top of our minds and our hearts, the will to maintain the promise of rights for all people that this nation represents.

The America we know today bears little resemblance to the America George Washington was thinking about when he led his troops across the swollen and ice-filled dangers of the Delaware River in Christmas day in 1776, but it is still a symbol to all the world of the highest and most noble ideas that ever gave birth to a nation.

Many of us look at this country today and see its corruption, its arrogance, its lack of esteem for its own common people and weep for the difference between this picture and the hopes and dreams of General Washington, but we would do well to remember his determination. We would do well to recall how he persevered in the face of odds so overpowering that no one in his right mind would have given him the ghost of a chance for success. And we would do well to try and emulate that strength; to continue to stand up and be counted among those who know that America represents too shining an example to be allowed to slip under the dark waters of tyranny, ignorance and arrogance that threaten her today.

Keep the faith, my friends, and – emulating Washington – continue to stand your ground until we know for sure that we have succeeded in reversing some of the infringements on liberty that have been put in place over the past twenty and most notably the past eight years.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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