Many Men Have Died in Darkness
Philadelphia's recently defaced Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is not a memorial for George Washington (though it is located in Washington Square). It is a memorial for the two or maybe three thousand penniless soldiers who are buried there in mass graves. Each was fighting for freedom at a time when a better understanding of freedom and equality was only just dawning on humanity. The evident majority who died of smallpox suffered more than most modern people can comprehend. They died for the principle that "all men are created equal" (the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776) and so that we might have the right "peaceably to assemble" and to "petition the Government for redress of grievances" (the 1st Amendment, written in 1791).
"Black lives matter" has essentially the same meaning as "all men are created equal." Both are true statements. The newer slogan, however, is also a Declaration that the "arc of history" has farther to bend until it achieves justice. That is also true. Ask any member of "Mother Emanuel" AME Church in Charleston or the families of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
We have a better understanding of freedom and equality today than America's founding generation had. But you have to walk before you can run, and the men buried in Washington Square were among the very first common people on Earth to walk upright and proudly in defense of human and civil rights. Today, most of the world is still trying to catch up.
We can't let up now, however. We have farther to go.
Read More: "The Tragedy of Henry Laurens" (August 1, 2019)
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6/16/2020 04:53:05 am
Thank you for the thoughtful words. Perhaps one reason that George Washington’s statue is at the monument for these fallen soldiers is because about that time he gave orders to have the entire American army inoculated for smallpox.
6/16/2020 11:00:35 am
Thanks for this. Washington's decision to inoculate the troops definitely saved thousands of lives. There were other diseases, though, and Adams' 10:1 estimated ratio may not be far off. I'm sure someone has produced an estimate based on data.
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is researching the history of the Revolutionary War's 8th Virginia Regiment. Its ten companies formed on the frontier, from the Cumberland Gap to Pittsburgh.
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