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SCOUT THREE-ZERO


     Four score and many years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal; insomuch as they are endowed with certain unalienable rights which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We hold these truths to be self evident.
     So it is that we are constantly involved in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. This is the exercise of democracy through a republic. Allowing those rights to many who may not deserve them, and undoubtedly have not earned them. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. That is the here and now.
     With Presidents Day we honor two of our Presidents who as much as possible determined the fate of this nation; as we should honor the men and women who often go unnamed yet offer their lives to make sure that these Presidents can be remembered. One of these Presidents was the father of our country; the other was his lawyer.
     With George Washington we find the first true Black Knight of the Hudson. Given his oath to a group of men who were representatives of a people, to defeat our enemies and to secure liberty for those people who had invested that responsibility, could have usurped that power when he was victorious.
     Near West Point, N.Y., before the officers of the army that he had led, who wanted him to be, in that void, what other conquering generals had become, chose to humble his image at that moment thus humbling himself to his word. With an uncertain future for his and their labors, how much more faith and strength of character could one exhibit. His investment returned the maximum gain. We honor this man.
     Abraham Lincoln sought to preserve that ideal; that this nation indivisible, shall not perish from the earth. That this nation of a race of people unlike any other that could create a culture which lives freely and respects each other, would not separate.
     Even when our relatives of our ancestors would burn down our Capitol of government and White House of our Chief Executive as in the War of 1812. This was as close as anyone could come to destroying the evolution of this race which gave mankind something none other did.
     We find another test of this evolution in Carl Sandburg's Lincoln : On August 14, 1862, there came to the White House the first committee of Negroes to arrive there by invitation of the President for a meeting with the Executive on a public issue. They were seated and, greetings and preliminaries over, the President explained that money had been put at his disposal by Congress for the purpose "of colonizing people of African descent," a cause he had long favored. And one of those present made a record of Lincoln's remarks as the first memorandum of words of the President of the United States addressed directly and exclusively to people of that race.
     "Why," the President asked, "should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason, at least why we should be separated. You here are freemen, I suppose. [A voice: "Yes, sir." Perhaps you have long been free, or all your lives. Your race are suffering, in my judgement, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on any equality with the white race....The aspirations of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours."
     He was telling the row of colored men who sat before him about things long in his mind and heart. So long a time had he brooded over the inevitable facts that what he had to say was in short words and the like a sad refrain of life under hard trials: "Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this, but present it as a fact with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would." With two races, one enslaved, had come effects, among them general evil effects on the white race, he believed. "See our present condition-the country engaged in war-our white men cutting each one another's throats-none knowing how far it will extend-and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of slavery, and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated."
     The principal difficulty in the way of colonization, the President suggested to the committee of Negroes, was that "the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it." While slaves would gladly accept freedom on condition of leaving the United States for a colony, the free man would have "nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign country." Without meaning to speak unkindly, he felt this was "an extremely selfish view" of the case. "You ought to do something to help those...not so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh-as it may be, for you colored people to remain with us. Now, if you could give a start to the white people, you would open a wide door for many to be made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the beginning, and whose intellects are clouded by slavery, we have very poor material to start with. If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed."
     The President then unfolded a plan for them to go to a country in Central America, rich in coal mines, farm land, harbors, and other advantages. What they could do would depend on themselves. "Success does not as much depend on external help as on self reliance....I shall, if I get a sufficient number of you engaged have provision made that you shall not be wronged. If you will engage in the enterprise, I will spend some of the money intrusted to me. I am not sure you will succeed. The government may lose the money; but we cannot succeed unless we try....Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, and able to 'cut their own fodder,' so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could find twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and children,-good things in the family relation, I think,-I could make a successful commencement. I want you to let me know whether this can be done or not. This is the practical part of my wish to see you "
     The options of this meeting were many to be unfolded, and if of interest, the reader would do well to further research the subject in that volume. As executive orders go, and there are many that are given by our elected officials-chief executives primarily, they are often an impromptu necessity.
     As a commanding officer must make decisions for the good of his men and objective, so too the commander in chief must. But as we the people have to live with the long term effects of such decisions, in all cases should be able to have self determination ultimately. A similar situation would be the War Powers Act; the civilian situation not being the same as the military one; our legislators often making bad decisions for us that we are buried with.
     To me, if Lincoln could have ordered thousands upon thousands upon thousands of men to their bloody deaths to preserve the unity of this nation, why could he not as well, as he felt, order the rounding up of the freed slaves to be sent to the more conducive environment. He thus could have avoided what has become a history of strife that seemed true to him.
     I had always heard in grade school that Lincoln was a racist and that he did not think that the races could live together. I did not know what they meant by that, but I do know now. One race subsisting off of the other race with no redeeming social values.
     From Abraham Lincoln we find him saying, "To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is alike impossible."
     From the Pennsylvania Journal : "If there are spots on Washington's character they are like spots in the sun, only discernable with the magnifying powers of the telescope."
     "If Washington can do this [relinquish power at the end the of the Revolution], he will be the greatest man in the World."-George III
     We dedicate a portion of this battle-field as a final resting place for those who give their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
     But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world-will little note, nor long remember what I say here, but it can never forget what we do here. It is for us the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died for nothing.
     Like the First Cavalry Division, George Washington had many unparalleled firsts. The least of which was, "First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen."
     The observations of this scout are not necessarily those expressed by the First Cavalry Division Association. Mike Bodnar is a combat veteran of 1st Plt., C 2\7 Cav, 1969, the a.a.p., 1970, 1st Cavalry Division.

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