A couple of thoughts on this Veteran’s Day. A little while back I heard a song on The Current that haunted the back of my mind. I heard it again this last week and it’s hold grew on me so that I downloaded it from iTunes. The song is by Eliza Gilkyson, from her Paradise Hotel album, and the lyrics are taken from letters written by her ancestor, Jedidiah Huntington, who commanded troops in the Revolutionary War and fought beside George Washington. While I don’t think I share many political views with Ms. Gilkyson, Jedidiah’s words from the past moved me much as they must have moved her. Here are the lyrics:
Jedidiah out in the snow
Walkin’ the frozen trenchlines
Wet boots and his wool coat comin’ apart at the seams.
Rations of hard-baked dough,
Handfuls of melting snow
What else can a man live on but his dreams?
Not twenty miles away,
in the mansions of Philadelphia,
Loyalists lay their money down on the king.
We’ve provision enough for the day,
but if victory were just for the wealthy
Our noble cause wouldn’t be worth the hardship we’re suffering.
Send the cloth for a good waistcoat,
I dream of your hearth and the fields of oat.
I awake to the drum and the trembling note of the piper.
May it please God in His great mercy,
To shelter our friends and our family.
I remain your son most faithfully,
I have seen a man, who has seen a man
who has heard the king,
Tell of his intention our independence to declare.
The peace will undoubtedly bring
A great revolution in commerce;
May it be our rightful fortune to come in for a share.
My regards to a certain Miss Moore,
I’ve stated my honorable intentions for her;
That upon my return from this necessary war she’ll be my wife.
May it please God in His great mercy
to restore the joys of domesticity.
Salutations to the family,
I rejoice that the cause we’re engaged in
is in the hands of an Almighty Sovereign;
Who I doubt not is accomplishing the ends of His desire.
My love to you and the fair Miss Moore;
Spare me a bottle from the cellar store,
and in my name let the contents pour,
I’m moved by the sacrifice and spirit that runs through the song. Jedidiah survived the war and married Miss Moore and led a very distinguished life as the biographical link describes.
Also, just in time for Veteran’s Day, I’m very happy to announce that the Gary Cooper classic “Sergeant York” became available at last on DVD this week. This is an amazing (and almost entirely true) story that is seldom remembered. I’ve shown the movie twice to teenage boys as part of my Fundamentals in Film series (most recently last night) and it’s hard to believe the reaction it gets. Even though the movie is set in World War I, filmed in black and white and the Tennessee accents are a little thick for northern ears, the boys embraced this movie. They’ve laughed out loud at the many humorous scenes, grown thoughtful as the main character, Alvin York, wrestles with his faith and his duty, and rolled their eyes a bit at the love story. The discussion after the movie last night was one of our best I’ve had with this present group of boys.
If you’ve never seen this movie, or haven’t watched it in a long time, you definitely need to check it out (it’s available on Netflix, btw, which mailed it to me the day before it was officially released). Though it might appear at first as a rather simple story, it’s an excellent tonic for our age that will encourage your faith, stimulate your thinking and deepen your appreciation for what our veterans have endured for our country.