As the fall approaches and the leaves begin to change from green to hues of yellow, orange, and red, I begin to look forward to my weekend trips to Bennington, Vermont. I make at least one trip to Bennington every fall, but will go as many weekends as my schedule allows. There’s something to be said about the serenity of the Vermont autumn.
Besides its aesthetic beauty, Bennington holds a special space in my heart. During my weekend trips, I always make a point to visit the statue of Seth Warner, a distant relative of mine who fought for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Seth Warner was a vital figure for the establishment of Vermont State, and I take pride in being related to such a figure. After Warner achieved the status of colonel and returned to Roxbury, he applied for a grant in order to create the state of Vermont. Unfortunately, due to long delays, Warner had been dead for four years when the grant, called the Warner’s grant, finally went through. To honor him, the Bennington Battle Monument in Bennington, Vermont included a sculpture of Warner.
Warner’s statue sits tall and proud at the Bennington Battle Monument site. He is portrayed with an aura of victory and pride inspired by his position in the Revolutionary War. As years have gone by, my only concern has been the amount of trees surrounding the monument. I would hate for the statue to get damaged in a storm by falling branches or trees that are dying, diseased, or dead and no longer contributing positively to the gorgeous site. The surrounding foliage is mostly beautiful, but the dying trees do not do any good for the surrounding area. I have even considered contacting the town with the name of a great tree removal service I have worked with before and suggesting taking care of a potential problem before it happens. (click here for tree service info)
Despite this concern, I am lucky to be unlike many of my peers, who are suffering from the end-of-summer blues as Labor Day weekend has come and gone. Why would I be? I have the picturesque Bennington Vermont waiting for me.
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.
We don’t think of ourselves as a third world country. Today we are a powerful nation, with a heritage and a capable military. We are vastly removed from a time when our borders were fluid boundaries shared by other governments with interests here. We do not live under the thumb of a mother colony or nation like England.
To the British they must have seen us as an outpost. They had been to war with us decades before the revolution during the French Indian War. They had witnessed what they thought was an incompetent commander in the likes of George Washington, fumble his way through his tour. The idea that this was now our supreme commander must have made the British laugh.
This fact, on top of the fact that we had no official military or Navy must have made them think they would make short work of our rebellion. We had never organized into expeditionary units that could challenge another nation, so challenging a nation as powerful as this one probably looked like suicide. Additionally, limited industry and some significant cultural differences between Northern and Southern colonies, including distance, made the idea of the British not winning, seem ridiculous.
Yes we had a huge population. Yes we had the advantage of home terrain, but let us put this in perspective. The British would eventually conquer a huge part of the world with nations whose populations far outpaced those on her mainland as in the case of countries like China, Canada, Australia. So in this context, thirteen coastal colonies declaring their independence probably seemed outrageously stupid to the British High Command. There was only one huge fatal flaw in their thinking. We did have a will to win. It may have been buried deep inside a part of the colonies, but its dormancy would end when the British invaded.
That will to be independent came in the form of Patriotism. This is the same Patriotism that sometimes seems dormant in our land of many cultures and interests. It re-emerges at time of need. You see it manifest during the Revolutionary war, the Civil war, the World Wars, and of course our trouble in the Middle East
It is part of who we are. The Patriotism ignited on the battlefields of the Revolutionary war challenged an empire. This same English empire had no trouble repressing the people of South Africa, India, China, Canada and others. We stand different. We took our freedom from the most feared military in the world. This to me is true Patriotism. This rising above the third world mentality that we are to be controlled, and taking control is a huge piece of our national identity. It is at the deepest core of our values, though you may not always see it. This Patriotism has molded us into a great nation and changed the world.
As I prepare for Veterans Day this year, my heart is a little heavy. I have always been a huge supporter of the holiday and I truly believe in its meaning but there has always been a piece of me that has always felt a little snubbed. No I haven’t served and I am not a veteran but my dad served twenty plus years in the Navy making me a Navy brat. Since I was an infant the Navy life was all I knew. At just two months old I was already on the move. Wrapped in my baby blanket, nestled in my mother’s arms, I was a board my first plane on my way to Guam. From that moment on I could sleep anywhere and my family was always on the move. I was not in the Navy but my family and I were a part of it, whether we wanted to be or not.
Veterans Day is a day to thank our veterans and to remember those who bravely served and the many that lost their lives or have come home broken. I absolutely support this day of honor one hundred percent. I just think that we, as a country should give the families of those brave soldiers the appreciation they so rightly deserve. The families may not be on the front lines but they are the backbones of the men and women that are. They sacrifice their lives for their service member, put up with all the moves, new schools, and base housing, and making new friends. Not to mention the raising of children alone when their spouse is deployed and they take on the role of both parents. Dealing with the what ifs and the uncertainty of whether or not their spouse will return safely. Families deal with the brunt of all the bad baggage that comes with being in a military family. This is not to say that we should take any focus on this day away from the veterans. They have sacrificed and given up their lives to serve our country and they deserve the utmost respect and glory for all they have done. Let us not just celebrate and honor them on this one day, let us carry it out through out the year.
Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change being a Navy brat for anything, and I am so proud of my father for what he sacrificed for me, my family and our country, but I always feel like one of the forgotten. On Veterans Day we bestow well-earned recognition and honor all of those who have sworn to “Support and Defend” and we can never give enough thanks to those that protect us. I must say I have seen a boost in recognition for military families, especially in the past couple of years, but in my opinion it still isn’t enough. I will never forget the empty feeling in my stomach as I watched my dad deploy once again, my heart seemed to drop and it never completely retracted back into place until his homecoming. As a child, watching my mother struggle with the absence of our service member, deal with movers, bills, and raising my brother and me, while still putting on a brave face was hard. It didn’t matter how many emails or phone calls (which were very rare back when my dad was deployed on the USS Harry Truman) we were still never fully assured that he would come back, anything could happen and at a young age I was taught to deal with that reality.
So as you reflect on this Veterans Day I urge you to think of not only those who have served but of the brave families that in a way serve right beside them, faded in the background as they may be or feel, they are there keeping our brave soldiers a float. Lets not take away the significance of this day though. Thank a veteran for his or her sacrifice; they truly deserve all the recognition in the world. Happy Veterans Day to all veterans and their families, I am truly grateful for your service and you are never forgotten.
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 →