Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Emails #36: Patriotism - Not Catch Phrases

BEN: An anecdote about General Benedict Arnold and the American Revolution. General Gates became the commander of the Northern theater replacing Schuyler, whom Arnold was under. (Schuyler lost Fort Ti and Gates had more political power so, Gates nabbed his command.) The Battle of Saratoga was actually two battles. The first one was kind of a draw and the Continental Army pulled back when night fell. If I recall correctly, instead of attacking, Gates allowed the Brit forces and mercenaries to build a stronghold, a giant wall of logs called a redoubt. Arnold disagreed with this because he knew the Brits had been fighting siege warfare for hundreds of years. Gates was confident that he could just wait in their similar stronghold. Arnold demanded they not wait. Gates said to let the enemy have at it, they have no chance against their fortifications. Again, Brits have been doing this for hundreds of years. Arnold knew if they didn't attack, they were screwed. There ended up being yelling and Gates relieved Arnold of his command. The Brits did advance and Gates sent out forces to meet them. They did well, but when they got to the redoubts, they were repelled. Arnold, against orders, rode out and rallied the troops. With them in tow, Arnold rode out into the open field between the two lines yelling and waving his sword. They ended up sending the enemy into retreat and in so doing, changing the direction of the very war. Arnold got an enemy bullet for his efforts and was disgraced again by Gates. Turns out that Arnold's two biggest victories-- the Battle of Valcour Island and the Battles of Saratoga, probably were the turning points of the war. The history books understate Arnold's contributions because he eventually betrayed the cause-- disenfranchised by political maneuvering and the fact he saw the country he was helping to build become less and less the vision of rule by the people. The Wiki account basically says there's no way the Patriots could have lost while the story I've heard is it was crucial they win in Saratoga that second day because there were British reinforcements on the way.  If they hadn't been stopped, there would have been nothing to stop the British tide from washing southward By the way, Gates sat in base camp for the whole thing.

RICK: Maybe we will discover that Cap, while frozen in the block of ice, revisits famous moments in American history.

I see the Second War as a continuation of the first. A Power grab. A Land grab. Hatred masquerading as ethnic pride. Everything you could want to know about the second comes from the first. Those things that motivate Steve Rogers come from the first war, like a baton being passed to a runner, handing down the passion and obsession. Steve will undoubtedly be born in the late twenties, just before the depression strikes. He will have no personal memory of the Great War or the Flu Epidemic. He won't know anything about the Super Soldier Serum, the research of which predates his birth by a decade. The illnesses, broken bones, and underweight, hallow quality to his body will be accepted in so far as they can't be changed. Something must grab a hold of him and not let go. Patriotism does not require trauma. It is better if it is something the boy decides upon, weighs.

Well, patriotism is learned from one's surroundings just like negative things like prejudice. I totally hear what you're saying though-- it's something that would grow over time, not by one trauma. That's not to say a traumatic experience doesn't help mold Stevie, but I agree that such an event would have to be surrounded or followed with a messages of fair play, justice, freedom, democracy and lessons about the opposite. It won't all combine into an inner need until later when the seeds sprout.

Add water.

Steve needs fuel. Passion is not about spouting catch phrases. Conviction, real conviction must be the result of tested beliefs. Patriotism, the kind that Steve has - not the blind "love it or leave it" kind, must be instilled at an early age. This wraps nicely with Steve learning to lead, to command. What form will this lesson or lessons take?

The drafts from the regiments at Ticonderoga are a miserable set; indeed the men on board the fleet, in general, are not equal to half their number of good men.
-Benedict Arnold

What do you think would be my fate if my misguided countrymen were to take me prisoner?
-Benedict Arnold

Let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another.
-Benedict Arnold

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