April 19, 2005

April 19, 1775

And so the battle is joined--from the Library of Congress' American Memory website, a notation marking the beginning of the American Revolution with the battles of Lexington and Concord.

In 1836, only 61 years distant from that first shot (and only 53 since the end of the war), a monument was erected to commemorate the event and the following hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson was sung--

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world,

The foe long since in silence slept,
Alike the Conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem,
When like our sires our sons are gone.

Spirit! who made those freemen dare
To die, or leave their children free,
Bid time and nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and Thee.

The Michael Moores of the world may believe these men are no different from the bloody power-mad murderers the world now calls terrorists. The men who fought to leave their children free were not murderers, not be the context of our time, nor of their own. Even their foes saw them not simply as enemies, but as honorable enemies--weak, upstart, misguided--most certainly. But not men of dishonor.

That they persevered and were victorious made the world a better place, and by that grace allowed even the simpletons and buffoons of our land to show themselves freely for what they are. That such mockers and poltroons are given a place in our midst is not by the hand of their own idiocy, but rather is a gift from their fathers; the same fathers whom they hold in such low regard.

May those who unjustly equate the founding of this country with the deeds of evil men never have to live without the protection of her liberty.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at April 19, 2005 09:54 AM

I've had some pretty heated discussions with sundry people over the years as to whether guerilla warfare as precticed by the colonials during the revolution was terrorism. My take on it is that it was not.

For the most part. There was some nasty stuff that went on in the Carolinas. But, a lot of that was the vicious and sometimes downright savage circle of reprisals betwixt the loyalists and the rebels. Not so much between the Armies.. Leaving Banstre Tarleton aside for the moment.

Now, if you really want to compare someone in the revolution to terrorists, lets look at at our red-coated friends paying their Indian allies to attack the largely undefended western settlements.

I would liken that to the German using the IRA as proxies to attack England during the World Wars (don't know that they did, that's just an example).

Posted by: DaveH at April 19, 2005 01:40 PM

There were certainly atrocities committed, especially, as you note, in the Carolina backcountry which in many places devolved into a civil war, or even worse, something akin to a gang war. But these incidents were roundly condemmed by both sides, even when the actors were supposedly on the same side.

Remember, too, gunpowder was pretty widely available. If the colonist had wanted to, they could have driven wagonloads of it into New York, Philadelphia, and Boston and set it off indiscriminately just like car bombers do now. But they didn't, because they shared a common idea of civilization that saw the random killing of bystanders as inexecusable.

There was also the code of the gentleman that made breaking your word or abusing others a blot on your reputation. It was not uncommon for captured British officers to be able to walk about on parole, and be given access to their sidearm, AND be expected to help uphold law and order, AND the general populace was constrained to obey them as they would an American officer.

Different times, but still they were a people with a common heritage who did not condone nihilistic random stupidity in the name of liberty.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at April 19, 2005 01:56 PM

Terrorists are not interested in liberty. They are interested in being in charge. Much of what the terrorists do today was practiced on a large scale by Lenin and Mao. Of course I know that tehre are people who beleive that those two were great liberators but Terry did say something about simpletons and buffoons back up there somewhere.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at April 19, 2005 03:50 PM