Saturday, April 15, 2006

POWER TO THE PEOPLE
(NO DELAY)*
The time has come, get on the street! Everyone can you feel the heat? Don't be afraid, afraid of change. It's time to take, take the streets, it's time to end, the corporate elite! Raise your voice, we must impeach, it's your choice, we can be free. Don't be afraid, afraid of freedom, it's time to take, take the streets. it's time to end, the corporate elite!Why not here? Why not today? You can be free, just make a change. Don't be afraid, afraid of revolution, it's time to take, take the streets. It's time to end, the corporate elite!
-Danger to the System
Having sufficiently recovered from my back tragedy, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and spent the day at Valley Forge National Park. Anyone unfamiliar with Valley Forge, I will provide you with a short history.
After declaring independence from the British Empire in 1776, the British Army (already ashore in many places throughout the country) decided to beat down this apparent rebellion. The American Army, then in the first days of its infancy, was lead by George Washington. This ragtag band of American citizens picked up their muskets, said goodbye to their loved ones and headed out to fight for what they believed in.....freedom from the King of England.
In the winter of 1777 (December, to be exact) this ragtag army, ten to twelve thousand strong, arrived at Valley Forge to quarter for the winter. In 1777 Valley Forge was considered out in the middle on nowhere. It was mostly farms and open land. Thirty miles from Philadelphia, in an era devoid of cars and rapid transportation as we know it now, Valley Forge was considered relatively safe from attack by British forces. But life at Valley Forge was not easy.
The winter was brutal and these citizen soldiers were without proper equipment. They built log huts (many which still remain today) and dug trenches throughout the entire vast area. They built redoubts and artillery parks to defend themselves in case of attack. Their clothes were inadequate for such a winter and many men wore rags on their feet instead of boots, leaving a bloody trail whever they walked. Food was scarce and raiding parties were sent all the way to New Jersey to obtain cattle. But still they persisted. "Perhaps one of Washington's soldiers said it best when he described his reasons for not abandoning the field despite the harsh conditions: 'We had engaged in the defense of our wounded country and . . . we were determined to persevere.' Private Joseph Plumb Martin, 8th Connecticut regiment, December 1777."
Two thousand men died at Valley Forge (many of these deaths were from starving) and thousands of others were sickened by the cold, poor water, cholera and typhus. In June of 1778, the tattered remnants of the Continental Army walked out of Valley Forge for the last time. From there they went on to new Jersey, New York and then, infamy.
I have spent many hours scouring this sacred land. Land of the American patriot. Land our forefathers strode upon and died on in order to give me the right to rant on this blog today. Since I was a child, Valley Forge Park has been one of my favorite places to visit. Aside from my years spent in college, I have never lived farther than 50 miles away from the park. The park is a stunningly beautiful place. ACRES upon ACRES of open fields and dense forest. Deer roam freely, free from fear of hunters and speeding automobiles. So vast is the park that no matter how many times I have been there I find something new every time I visit. Today was no exception.
I parked by the encampment of General Anthony Wayne and the Pennsylvania Army and walked through the field that spread out in front of me like an ocean of green and brown. As I walked, I thought of the sacrifice of the men who camped here so long ago. These were men who truly believed in a dream and were more than ready to lay down their lives to see this dream come to fruition. Packs of deer fed on the grass all around me. A pickup baseball game was being played in the distance and the happy screams of young children could be heard resonating throughout the park. Being a holiday weekend, the park was filled with joggers, bikers, people walking their dogs and picnickers. but the sheer vastness of the park gives one the sense of being alone.
I continued on through the field, looking at the ground and at the sky and at the mountain that rose about 1/2 mile in front of me all the while deep in thought. Finally, I arrived at the edge of the mountain and I proceeded up into the woods. After picking though the woods for some time, I noticed two flags waving in the breeze ahead of me. Having never seen these flags before I walked over to them and read the weather worn sign that described the area I had just stumbled upon. "GRAVE OF UNKNOWN REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIER" the well worn sign proclaimed. I stared at this grave for a long moment. To the right of the grave, directly below the sign someone had placed a porcelain figurine, about 10 inches high, of a revolutionary war soldier, replete with tri-corner hat, over coat and musket, standing guard over this lonely gravesite for eternity.
I sat down beside this grave and looked in the direction from which I had just come. The field was beautiful in the afternoon sun and the log huts of the Pennsylvania Regiment were clearly visible in the distance. There was no other sound except for the chirping of birds, the rustle of leaves as some small creature darted from one hole to another and the sound of the wind blowing gently through the trees. Here this American soldier had lain for 228 years. He had seen his friends depart and head on to fight the British. And for years after that he had been alone. It was not until many many many years after the war had ended that the land was recognized as a historical site and the tourists and day trippers began to flood the area.
Had anyone told him his sacrifice had not been for naught? Did he "know" somehow that his friends, his neighbors had been victorious and that his death, along with the deaths of thousands of others, had lead to the establishment of the greatest democracy in the world? Was this man proud of what he had done? Was he even old enough to be called a man?
And then the anger started. I felt it begin in my temple as a dull throb began to beat behind my eyes. I was sitting next to an American citizen who had laid down his life here on our own soil so that I could live as I do today. No other war this country has fought has so directly affected our way of life today. If it were not for these brave farmers, shopkeepers, carpenters, steelsmiths, etc our way of life would be vastly different. This man/boy had died so that I could speak up when I felt injustices were occurring in this country. So I could march in the streets in protest. So that I could chose to worship or NOT worship as I pleased. So that all men are created equal. And yet we/I had not taken advantage of the power these brave souls had given to us. I felt as if I were failing him. That WE, this COUNTRY, were failing him.
This is when I started to cry. I really did, no shame here. "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry" I repeated to the grave over and over again. If only the people (US!) for whom you had fought 200 years ago had the same courage! The simple shopkeepers and farmers from his era wouldn't put up with the shit that's occurring in this country today. No chance. They would have stood up long ago and put an end to this "takeover." Revolution was in their blood. It coursed through their veins and provided them with the courage to stand up and scream "NO MORE!"
Greed runs through our veins. Greed and the lust for power. Years of relatively easy lives has softened us. We no more demand justice, unless we are somehow directly affected. And even then we are easily put down, paid off or shut up. A nation of cowards, content to have an all volunteer military do OUR dirty work. If it were up to the "people" to mobilize and do this governments bidding, we (they) would fail miserably. Everyone wants SOMETHING but is not willing to sacrifice ANYTHING to get it. We expect everything to be hand delivered to us. And for this we have been taken over by corporatists and insane dominionists. My dead soldier is spinning in his grave.
With the imminent threat of nuking Iran it is time for the people to rise. We cannot wait until AFTER the fact. Then it will be too late. If we attack Iran, Iran will attack Israel. And so begins World War III. And World War III will not be fought with muskets, horse drawn cannon and bayonet's. Is this what the people want? What is the moment you will choose to rise and retake our once great country? Will you wait, as I expect, until suicide bombers are boarding our trains and buses everyday? Will you wait until a nuclear weapon is detonated here in this country? Even then will you rise, or will you hide in your basements and wait for this corrupted government to take care of you? (Never mind that it was they who got you into this mess in the first place.)
Italy ousted their dictator Benito Mussolini (see picture above) but only AFTER he sided with Adolf Hitler and actively involved them in World War II. How many Italian citizens were killed in the ensuing invasion of THEIR homeland? Why did they not rise as soon as they saw the direction their country was headed? How many deaths could have been prevented had they simply reclaimed their government BEFORE shit got out of hand?
But I am only one person. I cannot do shit by myself. I can write and rant all I want, but that will not accomplish what needs to be accomplished. I cannot take down this cabal of criminals and murderers on my own. If I could, I would be a super hero. But I'm just one person, like my soldier who lies in the grave beside me. The difference is, that soldier had COMPANIONS in the revolution. Citizens he had never before met but who heard the same call as he. And instead of waiting for "someone else" to do it, they ALL rose, at the same time, and reclaimed this country from the British.
I will fight for this country, but I cannot fight alone. I wait everyday for the cry of the people to awaken me and send me running out into the streets with MY musket and tri-corner hat. I wait for that inspirational person who will speak for us. Who will cry from the rooftops and scream "foul" everytime he or she opens their mouth. That person is what's needed to spur the people on. Without him, we are a giant ship drifting aimlessly on a vast sea. No direction, no power to steer the ship back on course. Easily overlooked on the vastness of the sea. We need a captain.
When this happens, the people will have someone to follow into battle. And follow him I will, regardless of the consequences. This is a promise I made to my soldier in his grave. I swore that I would do all that was necessary to reclaim this country for which he had so unselfishly given his life. This country means too much to me to simply sit by and watch it fall into fascism and endless war in the Middle East. But time is running out. We cannot sit idly by forever, waiting. And maybe, just maybe, 238 years from now, someone will sit beside MY grave on a windswept hillside, adorned with a weather worn sign that simply states "GRAVE OF AN UNKNOWN REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIER."
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin', Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world, Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin', Heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'
- Bob Dylan
* Public Enemy