As I sit here writing this, I’m watching Mel Gibson’s The Patriot in my Survey of Am. Lit class. It’s a gory movie, but I won’t ever think of the Revolution the same way.
I always thought of rich plantation owners sitting in a stuffy room one Pennsylvania summer, and penning a document that forever after defined freedom. I thought of Bunker and Breeds Hills and the battles of Lexington and Concord, Kips Bay, Princeton, Trenton, and the fights in the Carolinas and Virginia as being one sided. I never imagined Colonials giving their lives, their homes, their family’s even, all to ensure the freedom and liberty of a nation that they wouldn’t even live to experience.
This whole time all I’ve learned about is people like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington; all powerful and influential men who helped fashion our great nation- but they all lived through the war. But, shouldn’t we honor equally those who did die, and who provided our “founding fathers” a land with which to govern? How come you never hear about all the men and boys who fought and died for the land?
I don’t know what my point is in writing this . . . perhaps just that I realized, for the first time, that America’s fight for Independence wasn’t as easy and innocent as I’ve always imagined it to be. Iv’e always referred to the Revolutionary time period as being my favorite era to study. Now, I realize that there was more to it than I originally acknowledged. Yes, of course I’ve heard the stories of Colonel Prescott’s orders to “hold the fire until you see the whites of their eyes”, but those were always British casualties.
I never imagined the American casualties, the American sacrifice. That’s what America was really founded on. Not on Liberty, not on democracy, but sacrifice. Risking everything you own for something you truly believe in, and having enough faith both in the cause and Devine Providence to provide, that you are willing to die, so that someone else can experience it, and reap the benefits that you so desired.
I wonder how many militia men died that day at Yorktown in 1781. I wonder how many men missed seeing that dream come to fruition by just a few hours, minutes even. But then again, if they hadn’t have died, would General Cornwallis have surrendered? Would Yorktown have gone down in History as just another Trenton or Princeton? The fact of the matter is, their blood solidified the birth of our nation. Their sacrifice and devotion up until the very last minute of the war, is why a group a farmers and blacksmiths and apothecaries were able to defeat the most powerful army of their time.
Man, whether we are willing to admit it or not, the Revolution was a war, by every definition of the word. Children lost brothers, mothers lost sons, and women lost husbands. And knowing full well the cost, they willingly paid it, all to ensure that there would be a United States of America. Sacrifice and Devotion are what founded this nation. Sacrifice and Devotion are what makes a patriot.
And the same is true today.