-Memorial Day 2010- ALook Back
As I was walking down the graveled street I saw two slaves outside the tavern arguing about their place in the world that was being shaken under their feet. The man slave was extolling the on going foment as an opportunity to free himself of these bonds of slavery that they had been enduring. The woman was more cynical, and in retrospect, more accurate.
"You be a slave now, and when dis is over you be a slave then. You be a fool man if you think it will be different"
"I know it will be different. I will fight to make it different"
I listened awhile and walked on.
I wandered on down the street and saw a gathering of town people outside another tavern. There was a platform in front of the building where speakers could address the crowd. A military officer in full uniform was standing on the platform getting ready to address the crowd.
"My countryman we are engaged in a struggle that will profoundly change our lives. The tyranny of the British Crown cannot endure. It must not endure. We will muster all the strength we have and solicit the good will and material gifts of our friends. Among those friends are the citizens and military of France. I present to you today a man of skill and courage, the honorable, Marquis de Lafayette, a General Officer under the command of General George Washington."
The crowd welcomed the young general with great applause. Lafayette began to speak in an eloquent French accent.
"The dream of liberty must become a reality by virtue of our efforts. France is a reliable friend in the quest for freedom and self determination of these united colonies in America."
He spoke for a few moments more, and closed with these words as best that I can remember.
"Ladies and gentleman I have come here to help secure the freedom from tyranny for your country, not as a Frenchman, though I am that. Yes I am French, but not today, not here, today I am an American"
The crowd thundered enthusiastic applause. A military man stepped forward and encouraged people in the crowd to join the effort. The fife and drum platoon began playing and marching while the crowd fell in behind them. We went to a large field where we listened to a speech from the great General Washington.
During the day I heard reasoned arguments that fighting the King’s army was insane, and as Englishman, disloyal. It was easy to see war was with the Crown was not universally embraced. About one third of the population were revolutionaries, one third loyalists, and one third wanted nothing to do with either of the other two factions. The history of our revolution is now taken for granted, but at the time, the outcome was anything but certain. The people who have died and have been wounded in battles to preserve this nation are honored today. While we enjoy the commemoration we will be thinking of those who have served. Enjoy your holiday
(Description of the above- Re-enactments that regularly take place in Historic Williamsburg Virginia)