Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Working For The Weekend..............

I had a wonderful time this weekend, we had an event at Petersburg, VA with our hospital unit. The normal cast of characters was present and well as Victoria and her family. Victoria doesn't get out much, she works as a E.R. doctor and administrator, as well as being a single mom so she has a BUNCH of balls in the air at one time. So it's a true delight when she can come out. Of course the Randalls, The Greeleys, Mr. Grimes, and a few others made up the whole family.

We work so well together that it is scary. I go to events and can kick back and know that the quality of our interpretation will never suffer. Now that's not to say that's what I WANT to do, but sometimes my health requires that I have to sit back and watch. This weekend was one of those. It gripes my A** but it's what I am stuck with. Like it or not.

I was able to show the public how doctors made medicines 235 years ago by demonstrating the manufacture of pills, ointments, and suppositories. I also served as a fact checker for the lads doing the heavy duty interpretation. My guys (and gals) are so good at what they do, I didn't really have a lot to do in that area. Have I told you how proud I am of my guys?

Petersburg is operating behind the curve to a certain level. It's tourism meat and potatoes lies in the period of the American Civil War, since the seige of Petersburg was tied so closely to the defence and capture of Richmond. However the local historians and the city of Petersburg are making a concerted effort to help the public understand that history in that area did not start in 1861. That is why I don't mind going to this event to help out.

Petersburg is also the home of Ft. Lee with it's Army quartermaster's school. A good number of folks doing their A.I.T. came out to the historic site to assist with set up, traffic control, and other odds and ends. I enjoyed spending time with them and Miss Nancy made sure that they had a running tab at the rootbeer seller that had set up. America should be proud of these fine young men and women serving their country.

And since this was the first event of the season, we took time to have the traditional Peeps toast. Ms. Nancy has all the gory details on her blog.


So as you can see, it WAS a wonderful weekend.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Patriot's Day...................

As a Revolutionary War reenactor today's date has a very significant meaning to me. On this date the first shots were fired in what would start out as a minor rebellion, morph into a civil war and then change into what would be for all intents become a world war.

So many people believe that when the first shots were fired, that everyone picked up their guns, started whistling "Yankee doodle" and threw the hated British out of America. Well, like everything else, it wasn't that simple. Sam Adams himself said the population of the 13 colonies was 1/3 for revolution, 1/3 loyal to the King and 1/3 neutral. He also noted that the 1/3 neutral number waxed and waned depending on who held the most power or appeared to be winning the war at the time. Based on my research, I have found that more Americans fought for the British (In both regular and provincial units) than fought in the Continental Army.

The revolution was a political war also. The war was wildly unpopular in England, a very active opposition in Parliament contested the king's ministers at every turn. There were protest and even riots in the streets of London, requiring the army to be called out to put down the disturbances.

France (the long time and traditional enemy of England) and to a lesser degree Spain was in the meantime sitting on the sidelines watching and waiting. Just to make things interesting, France started sending a little money, gunpowder, weapons and advisors to the Americans. This allowed the Americans to keep the war going and to fight more effectively. Later, the French came into the war on the side of the Americans and provided a Army and more importantly a Navy to counter England's Royal Navy. This turned our revolution into a world war.

I have made the comment many times that if you look back as little as 35 years ago, to where our country was, the similarities are astounding. It seems that the American Revolution was Great Britain's Vietnam. The study of history is full of comparisons such as this one which is one of the reasons that it is so fascinating to me. We humans just keep reinventing the wheel.

Another thing that I have developed in my studies is a admiration for the average soldier. The man on the ground, boots in the mud, risking life and limb for the powers that be. And while my admiration and affection for our own servicemen (and women) knows no limits, I have another warm spot in my heart for the British soldier. Tommy Adkins as he would latter be called, has soldiered on, perhaps poorly led, or not for the best reasons for 100's of years making the British Empire the wonder of the world. Great Britain has fallen on hard times these days but you can be sure that even today the average British soldier will still be doing his duty for King (or Queen) and country.

To end this post, I thought I would share two poems with you. Back about 10 years ago, I went to Lexington to commemorate the 225 anniversary of the battle and saw a grave containing British soldiers killed near the Concord bridge. The grave was beautiful maintained and had a marker on which was carved a part of a poem written by James Russell Lowell. It reads,

"They came three thousand miles, and died,
To keep the Past upon its throne;
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan."

Another favorite poem of mine was written by Rudyard Kipling dedicated to the British soldier of the Victorian age, but it could cover any soldier, any time.

Tommy Adkins

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Today In History..............

In 1587................

Sir Francis Drake one of Queen Elizabeth I most effective "sea dogs" sailed into Cadiz Harbor and burned multiple Spanish ships that lay at anchor there. This set back Spanish plans to invade England by at least a year. Drake referred to this act as "singeing" the Spanish King's beard.

In 1775................

The first shots were fired marking the start of the American Revolution in Lexington, Massachusetts. This first skirmish cost the colonist 8 dead and 10 wounded, with no casulties for the British. A little later in the day, the first three British soldiers were killed in Concord, just down the road from Lexington.

In 1943...............

As a part of the "Final Solution" Nazi forces moved into the Warsaw ghetto to remove the last of the Jewish population for transportation to the death camps. There had been a low level of resistance to the Nazis in the ghetto since January of 1943, but this date was the beginning of significant fighting. The ghetto fighters were armed with mostly small arms, homemade bombs, and anything else they could beg borrow or steal but managed to hold off the might of the Nazi hoards until May 16th 1943 when the ghetto area had literally been wiped off the face of the earth and was declared secure. There are names and places that ring throughout history, places such as the Alamo, Masada, Little Big Horn and so on. These places show us that sometimes you need to fight. Even if you know that there is no way that you can win, you still must make a stand and make the the good fight. I think that, due to the bravery of the defenders of the Warsaw ghetto, they can add their name with pride to the others. And to those fallen defenders of the ghetto I salute them with the lyrics that are in so many of their songs,
" Next year in Jerusalem!"

In 1989.................

In Tiananman Square, Beijing, China pro-democracy demonstrations began. Again, men and women will fight for freedom, no matter the cost. I will always remember the film of the lone Chinese man standing in front of a line of Chinese army tanks and not letting them pass when the Chinese government sent the army in to crush the protest. Again, sometimes you must fight because as a human being you can do nothing else.

In 1993.................

The 51 day siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas ended when federal law enforcement officers attempted to use teargas to get the Davidians out. A fire started in the main building and it burned to the ground. A number of the Davidians died in the fire.

In 1995.................

At 9:02 A.M. C.S.T. a truck bomb detonated beside the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma killing 168 men, women and children. 500 others were injured. Charged in this crime were Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Both were convicted, Nichols received a life sentence, McVeigh, the death penalty which he richly deserved. I can only hope that his reward in the afterlife is as bad as it should be in hell where I have no doubts he is now residing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Been A While...................

It dawned on me while sitting here, it has been a bit since I posted. My muse has left me, my computer is about to go west and I have been back in the hospital twice under emergency conditions. So I just haven't had the fire to post. Also old news isn't that interesting but I will type a few things that MAY interest you.

My unit DID win three awards at the M.T.A. event back in March which made me very, very proud. We won first place in period clothing, Second in camp interpretation, and Third in camp cooking. (A personal note, We wuz robbed!!!!!!!!! The food was MUCH better than 3rd place) Like I have said, I couldn't ask for a bunch of better folks than those who work with me in the hospital.

Well that's all for now, more later.