Monday, May 28, 2018
MEMORIAL DAY 2018
TODAY WE HONOR OUR MILITARY. Americans set aside Memorial Day to honor the service and sacrifice of generations of our fellow Armed Forces patriots, now departed, who defended American Liberty with honor. John Adams said, "Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives." America's fallen heroes understood and gave their lives for us, for our friends in other parts of the world, and for freedom. • It is said of George Washington that he was "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." • He commanded the troops who won the Revolutionary War, often suffering with and for them as they were not paid and sometimes not fed or clothed and armed properly for their historic task. But, being the first of the long line of American patriots who took up arms to save their counrty, the soldiers stayed on under General Washington because they loved and respected him. Together they won America's freedom. • • • WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL TO HIS OFFICERS. On December 4, 1783, nine days after the last British soldiers left American soil, George Washington invited the officers of the Continental Army to join him in the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern in New York City, so he could say farewell. The best known account of this emotional leave-taking comes from the Memoirs of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, written in 1830 and now in the collection of Fraunces Tavern Museum. As Tallmadge recalled : “The time now drew near when General Washington intended to leave this part of the country for his beloved retreat at Mt. Vernon. On Tuesday the 4th of December it was made known to the officers then in New York that General Washington intended to commence his journey on that day. At 12 o’clock the officers repaired to Fraunces Tavern in Pearl Street where General Washington had appointed to meet them and to take his final leave of them. We had been assembled but a few moments when his excellency entered the room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed which seemed to be reciprocated by every officer present. After partaking of a slight refreshment in almost breathless silence the General filled his glass with wine and turning to the officers said, ‘With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.’ After the officers had taken a glass of wine General Washington said ‘I cannot come to each of you but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’ General Knox being nearest to him turned to the Commander-in-chief who, suffused in tears, was incapable of utterance but grasped his hand when they embraced each other in silence. In the same affectionate manner every officer in the room marched up and parted with his general in chief. Such a scene of sorrow and weeping I had never before witnessed and fondly hope I may never be called to witness again.” The officers escorted Washington from the Tavern to the Whitehall wharf, where he boarded a barge that took him to Paulus Hook, (now Jersey City) New Jersey. Washington continued to Annapolis, where the Continental Congress was meeting, and resigned his commission. • • • WASHINGTON HAD EARLIER RALLIED HIS UNPAID TROOPS. Earlier in 1783, as the Revolutionary War in America drew to a close, a less peaceful but far more dangerous moment in the life of the fledgling Republic occurred when officers of the Continental Army met in Newburgh, New York, to discuss grievances and consider a possible insurrection against the rule of Congress. They were angry over the failure of Congress to honor its promises to the army regarding salary, bounties and life pensions. The officers had heard from Philadelphia that the American government was going broke and that they might not be compensated at all. On March 10, 1783, an anonymous letter was circulated among the officers of General Washington's main camp at Newburgh. It addressed those complaints and called for an unauthorized meeting of officers to be held the next day to consider possible military solutions to the problems of the civilian government and its financial woes. General Washington stopped that meeting from happening by forbidding the officers to meet in an unauthorized meeting. Instead, he suggested they meet a few days later, on March 15th, at the regular meeting of his officers. Meanwhile, another anonymous letter was circulated, this time suggesting Washington himself was sympathetic to the claims of the malcontent officers. And so, on March 15, 1783, Washington's officers gathered in a church building in Newburgh, effectively holding the fate of America in their hands. Unexpectedly, General Washington appeared at the meeting. He was not entirely welcomed by his men, but nevertheless, personally addressed them. Here is what Wshington said : "Gentlemen : By an anonymous summons, an attempt has been made to convene you together; how inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of all order and discipline, let the good sense of the army decide...Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last -- and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity consistent with your own honor, and the dignity of the army, to make known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country. As I have never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty. As I have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits. As I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army. As my heart has ever expanded with joy, when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen, when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it, it can scarcely be supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests. But how are they to be promoted? The way is plain, says the anonymous addresser. If war continues, remove into the unsettled country, there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to defend itself. But who are they to defend? Our wives, our children, our farms, and other property which we leave behind us. Or, in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two first (the latter cannot be removed) to perish in a wilderness, with hunger, cold, and nakedness? If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords, says he, until you have obtained full and ample justice; this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our country in the extremest hour of her distress or turning our arms against it (which is the apparent object, unless Congress can be compelled into instant compliance), has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! What can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country? Rather, is he not an insidious foe? Some emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and military powers of the continent? And what a compliment does he pay to our understandings when he recommends measures in either alternative, impracticable in their nature? I cannot, in justice to my own belief, and what I have great reason to conceive is the intention of Congress, conclude this address, without giving it as my decided opinion, that that honorable body entertain exalted sentiments of the services of the army; and, from a full conviction of its merits and sufferings, will do it complete justice. That their endeavors to discover and establish funds for this purpose have been unwearied, and will not cease till they have succeeded, I have not a doubt. But, like all other large bodies, where there is a variety of different interests to reconcile, their deliberations are slow. Why, then, should we distrust them? And, in consequence of that distrust, adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been so justly acquired; and tarnish the reputation of an army which is celebrated through all Europe, for its fortitude and patriotism? And for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No! most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance. For myself (and I take no merit in giving the assurance, being induced to it from principles of gratitude, veracity, and justice), a grateful sense of the confidence you have ever placed in me, a recollection of the cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you, under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honor to command will oblige me to declare, in this public and solemn manner, that, in the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the great duty I owe my country and those powers we are bound to respect, you may freely command my services to the utmost of my abilities. While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever ability I am possessed of in your favor, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained; let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress; that, previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in their resolutions, which were published to you two days ago, and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to render ample justice to you, for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the floodgates of civil discord and deluge our rising empire in blood. By thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes. You will defeat the insidious designs of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open force to secret artifice [Do Washington's words remind us of today's Deep State leaks?]. You will give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings. And you will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, 'Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.' " • The assembled troops didn't very well receive General Washington's speech or his promises. But, while they were udoubtedly grumblingg and whispering among themselves, Washington took out a letter from a member of Congress explaining the financial difficulties of the government. After reading a portion of the letter with his eyes squinting at the small writing, Washington suddenly stopped. His officers stared at him, wondering. Washington then reached into his coat pocket and took out a pair of reading glasses. Few of them knew he wore glasses, and were surprised. "Gentlemen," said Washington, "you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country." • • • DEAR READERS, in that single breathtaking moment of vulnerability and introspection, Washington moved his men deeply. They were ashamed, and many were reduced to tears, now looking with great affection at this aging man who had led them through so much. Washington read the remainder of the letter and left without saying another word, wisely realizing their sentiments. His officers then cast a unanimous vote, essentially agreeing to the rule of Congress. Thus, the civilian government was preserved and the experiment of democracy in America continued. • As he had done so often since 1776, and as he would do so often in the future, George Washington saved the Republic. And, his soldiers joined his effort by standing with him. • I wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day, and I hope all of us are praying for our fallen soldiers, honoring their families, and standing with George Washington and his army, and their posterity in arms, to assure the future of the Republic. • This John Williams "Hymn to the Fallen" You Tube presentation starkly details the sacrifice of America's soldiers as little else can -- < https://youtu.be/Omd9_FJnerY >.