Thursday, July 3, 2008
Independence Day: Celebrating Liberty & Those Who Defend It
It was on June 17, 1775 that the American rebels valiantly defended their positions on Breed’s Hill (adjacent to Bunker Hill) against two charges by the far more professional British soldiers. Lightly armed and poorly trained, these Massachusetts citizens were essentially out of ammunition and the third and final charge by the enemy would be a bloody hand-to-hand encounter.
Although the British had bayonets, the American defenders did not. When that final assault came and the two forces commenced their close-quarters battle, a British officer would recognize Dr. Joseph Warren, a member of the Sons of Liberty and one of the well-known leaders of the rebel forces. (His death was the inspiration for the famous painting above).
Warren had just received a commission as a major general in the patriot army, but that commission would not take effect for three days. The men leading the defense of Bunker and Breed’s Hills begged Dr. Warren to take command, but he chose to fight as an individual soldier. When the British officer shot Warren in the head, killing him instantly, one of America’s first citizen soldiers had given his life for the cause of liberty.
I was raised with the story of Dr. Warren as though I was hearing about a distant cousin. My grandmother, Leona Sumner Terrell Lindell, was a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on another relative’s service, but the family had “Warrens” too and we came to believe that there was at least a fair chance we were also related to this great man as well.
Today we are all their cousins and we remember the sacrifices of these courageous patriots and those who have followed them throughout our nation’s history. America is still a shining beacon of liberty to those who are oppressed or those who seek to make a better life. Every citizen must help ensure that this bright light of freedom is never extinguished, either by apathy or by conquest.
Happy Fourth of July to all, especially to America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who continue the legacy started by Dr. Joseph Warren and his fellow patriots.
SFC Chuck Grist