As Memorial Day moves nearer, I reflect on the loss of my Grandfather. He served in the Navy in World War II and in the Air Force during the Korean conflict. He was someone we all looked up to and respected him not only as our Grandfather but as a Patriot that had risked all for family and country. My father revered his wife’s father on a different level. Their bond was something that could only be shared by those who had experienced that same type of bond with comrades under harrowing circumstances.
It was not possible to visit my Grandfather’s grave just one year after we laid him to rest. I decided the next best thing to do was to visit some of his comrades, so I made the short trip to the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery. The quiet expanses of lawn dotted with rows and rows of matching tombstones. The limousine in the distance reminded me of a conversation concerning military funerals that I had with a friend that drives limousines for Saratoga Luxury Limo. I saw him shortly after my Grandfather died. Based on what he told me about the number of trips he is hired to make to the cemetery each month, it was hard to wrap my head around the enormity of military funerals that take place daily all over our country, not only at military cemeteries, bur private cemeteries as well.
As the summer begins and the snow and cold has finally disappeared
(for now), I am excited to spend more of my free time outside, in Schuylerville. Walking through the village, I often enjoy stopping in art galleries and appreciating the local talent. I’ll sometimes walk with my parents and take them out to lunch or dinner, when they actually let me pay. I see kids with their families, reminding much of myself not so many years ago, running over the footbridge of Fish Creek, seeing what wildlife they can spot. I listen to these same children talking about designs and strategies for the homemade boat race held every year in August and coming up quickly. The liveliness of the town is especially vibrant under the summer sun, and is my personal favorite time to be a young person born and raised and still living in Saratoga County.
Walking through Schuylerville on a warm June evening, about an hour before sunset, when the breeze is delicate through the warm air, I am reminded not only of my rich family history, but of the opulent American history that occurred in the area. Saratoga County is famous for its role during the American Revolution, and one of the most important battles of the Revolution occurred right in Schuylerville: the Battle of Saratoga (1777). For a bit of a historical reminder, the Battle of Saratoga was the turning point of the American Revolution. The American army was able to surround the British army after suffering vast causalities and the British were forced to surrender. The Conventions of Saratoga outlined the terms that resulted in the withdrawal of Burgoyne’s troops. Schuylerville is proud as a community to have hosted this event vital to our nation’s history and future.
Continuing my stroll through Schuylerville, I naturally land on the site of the battle, where I can see the Saratoga Monument standing tall and proud, much like the American army did about two and a half centuries ago. The Saratoga Monument is still my personal favorite of the Saratoga National Historical Park, an area I have gotten to know like the back of my own hand since childhood. The monument was built 100 years after the British surrendered. The soaring monument made of limestone was just refurbished in 2000, looking as beautiful as it is did the day it was unveiled. Picturesque bronze statues surround the stone monument. The statues in the niches include the four main contributors to the battle: Philip Schuyler, Daniel Morgan, Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold. There is one empty niche for Benedict Arnold, who was a notorious traitor to Americans which was symbolized through the absence of his statue in the niche set aside for him. There is a cast iron staircase that leads up to an observation deck, which is closed to the public but beautiful nonetheless.
I climb up the lush green hillside, and am able to oversee the entire battleground. I think about how lucky I am that I can see the sites of the events schoolchildren read about in their textbooks whenever I please. My loop around the town of Schuylerville allows me to see all of the community’s historical sites, but I routinely save the Monument for last. It is the perfect place to reflect my years in Saratoga County, think of the memories, and plan the future I would like to build. I will continue to spend many of my summer evenings strolling through Schuylerville with family or friends, and if I’m lucky, maybe the cute dark haired waitress at my (new) favorite restaurant. Some people my age cannot wait to leave the more rural places that they were born and raised in. But I cannot think of a more beautiful, historically full, and fulfilling place to spend my life than Saratoga County. Maybe I too will have a family someday, and my children can be brought up in an existing piece of history like I was.
In my last post I neglected to go into detail about the Harlem Hellfighters, a New York National Guard Unit comprised entirely of black recruits. I have attached a History Channel video clip tells their story and story of Henry Johnson. This pre civil rights era is truly a black eye in America’s History. June 2, 2015 it will be made right==better late than never.
Well, it is beautiful in the North East United states. After a long winter the barren trees have just decided to POP with color. Rolling over the hills of Massachusetts and eastern New York along the I90 corridor is a sight to see. As I drift north and west from the Springfield, MA area, heading toward home which is north of Albany, NY, just outside of Saratoga Springs. This is as good a place as any to start my story.
Yesterday morning’s papers announced that in our entire country, all of the military bases and police departments are at Force Protection Bravo. We are on high alert for terrorist threat. I wonder what it was called in colonial times? There probably was no term, because there was not much of an early warning system in place. It would not have mattered if was an Indian threat or a British threat; the fastest way to carry a message was a runner or at best a rider.
The Saratoga Area is rich in military history for both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. The area is famous for Fort Ticonderoga and Fort William Henry and the battle of Saratoga. I have to wonder what those patriots would have thought about today’s terror threat? Those Patriots fought so that we could have freedom of religion. They thought so that no one religion should ever be forced upon us. I wonder if they would ever have imagined that we would be fighting for the same thing all over again. This time it is not an overbearing Mother country, but a multitude of radicals that have contorted the basis of their own religion in order to justify eradication anyone that does not support their cause. Continue reading →