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Old North Bridge

 

August 20, 2017 - I toured through Middlesex County early Sunday morning and I had the opportunity to visit the Minuteman statue without interference from many other tourists. A toddler or two whisked across Old North Bridge and past the monuments without reverence, stopping just long enough to disturb the ghosts of liberty before running on up the hill to the old manse. For a moment I was alone, or as near to alone as one can be in a venue of this nature. 

In my travels I have walked upon the first battlefields of colonial insurgency, stood beneath trees where some of the insurgents were subsequently hanged, and sat to overlook the monuments that honor and remember them all. Here at Concord is where history says it really began, at a short bridge over a small creek. 

The creek and the bridge, and all of the other places of combat are insignificant, they are just venues that can be represented anywhere by stage sets and movie scripts. It is the people that were here that create the moments of history that are unique, that are important to us. We cast their images in metal and etch their words and deeds into stone in the hopes that their efforts will last as long as the environment that is the battlefield. 

 

These memorials I catalog, like the ideals for which we veterans served, will deterioriate with time unless the living care for them. Tending to the longevity of the memorials is easy; keep the vandals away, scrub the grime from the stones, and protect the metal from rust. The difficult part is maintaining the understanding of the history of the men and women that we commemorate. Their voices fade with time and their written words become subject to revisionists eager to interpret history from their own perspective. 

The revisionist looks to the Bill of Rights as a rulebook that can be, and should be, changed to fit the evolving times of an ever expanding populace whose roots are as varied as the winds and waves that brought them to these shores. The revisionist fails to recognize that the Bill of Rights, those common ideals for which the Minuteman fought, are inviolate. The revisionist ignores the time in which one person, royal by birth and supported by loyalists willing to protect every injustice in order to curry favor; could imprison anyone without trial. Property and every valuable possession, including a person's faith, could be siezed without warrant. Financial and physical sanctions upon those in opposition was commonplace, and assembling your neighbors to discuss the prospect and methods of easing the burdens, however peaceful, could result in death. 

This monument and the two thousand other stones, statues, and plaques that I have visited, all stand to remind us that the sacrifices were real. They represent men and women that gave their lives, endured the pain of battle, and carried the memories of their experiences to their graves. This monument describes a flag unfurled by farmers, a new flag flying in a springtime breeze. The revisionst never sees that the flag and the farmer are synonymous.

Just yesterday I was in Boston, one of the cradles of liberty, as the old common was overwhelmed by thousands protesting their oppresion. They chanted, they held banners, some even carried flags - but not the flag of our nation. No, the revisionist plays upon the ignorance of those duped into believing they are oppressed. The revisionist stands at a street corner, wearing a bandana to mask his face, and shouts about the inequality promoted by an unjust government. He and thousands more did what they could to bring Boston to a standstill. Their self-righteous indignance was against a government that allows news media to cover their protest from helicopters; beaming the impression to the world that America is aflame with resistance to an unjust, ignorant, and evil regime that is only interested in destroying the Republic and returning the populace to the depths of tyranny.

The revisionist fails to understand that King George's policies would have brought in troops and had them shot simply for assembling. Our government lets them make noise without prohibition. The revisionist does not care to educate his followers about the reasons for the Boston Massacre. No revisionist wants to be exposed as a charlatan whose only goal is to sell an unproven tonic that is more like to poison than to cure. 

The monuments I visit and write about were conceived and erected by those that understood the history of their times. These "realists" did not gather to promote the violence of the war, or the purity of their government. They assembled to honor those that stood and fought for the ideals represented by our Declaration of Independence and defined by the Bill of Rights. The realists know that dark things are done by all men in times of war, and that no government is ever able to perfectly represent the ideals that take us to war. The realists use the monuments, and the flag that flies over them, to remember the valor and bravery of those that stood and served when called. 

It takes a certain amount of courage to walk forward and recite an oath of enlistment. We veterans do not expect every American to accept the challenge; to offer ones life for the ideals, to suffer the pain, or endure the physical and emotional agony it sometimes requires to protect our Republic. What we do expect is not be seen as something incidental to revisionist history. We represent the flag as it represents us, one nation indivisible. When the revisionist chooses not to stand and render honors we are insulted far more than can be realized. We gave our lives to the Republic, can't you stand and give us two minutes?


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