Philadelphia Freedom Part I
Took a trip this past week after Christmas to visit Philly, not to just experience the craft brews but to experience history. For some reason, veterans seem to have a tough time with the holidays. Is it because we miss the family we had overseas that spent many of holidays with us or is it the sense of loss we feel for those that will never have a holiday again? It’s a dread and gray cloud that hits in the gut when you least expect it. Almost like a sponge that needs to be rung out but keeps filling until it is ready to explode. A trip to Philly helped, a trip to anywhere would have helped.
Philly is a step back in history to how our Nation was born, through battle and rhetoric. The power they had to make things happen not only with a musket but more importantly with their voice of reason. Our founding fathers had to convince a Nation full of separate colonies to unite and face a World power with a pen (quill), paper, and messenger. This is where speech was key,or more frankly, persuasive speech was key. Our founding fathers would send messengers to far-reaching areas in the thirteen colonies; the messages they sent had to be conveyed to the people in a way that would force them to choose between servitude (taxation without representation) or liberty.
Imagine that today, without social media, newspapers, anything. The person reading the message had to convey feeling and power of persuasion. We always focus on the message, not the “salesman” that sold us that message. They were the hidden factor of the birth of our Nation. In the military, you have true leaders and others; the others you will never remember their name, they were nil. The true leaders conveyed messages that made you move on through tough and impossible times; these are your warrior poets, the same as we had in the 1700’s. The one’s who moved a Nation of citizen soldiers to rise and become truly free. How do you find that voice? That “rhetoric”? How would you be able to send that message?
I was fortunate to beat the lines and attend the tour of our Independence Hall. Freedom isn’t free, nor is it easy to agree to. Our founding fathers fought verbally over how we would ask for freedom from our keeper (the British) and did so with speech (see the theme here, the power of verbal persuasion). They spoke and spoke until they agreed on what to say to the King to break away from tyranny; King rebuffed them, and they decided to break free to battle with powder, bullets, and words. They did it; no internet, no political parties,nobody holding their hands (ok, some French help).
What does this mean? It means we have the individual power to control our own “Nation”. Our Nation is our bubble of existence; our job, our family, our lives, our being. Do you have the power to move Nations, to move others, to do what YOU want to be free? Yes. Of course, you do. And if you ever need advice, I will be here with my limited life knowledge.
Epilog: Philly 2008. I had a brush with greatness in 2008. I was eating dinner at the now defunct Bookbinders restaurant. Throughout dinner, I noticed an older gentleman with a cross arrows lapel pin (Special Forces). He was enjoying his meal, so I didn’t want to bother him. As he stood to leave, I approached him to say “hi” and thank him. I asked what SF Groups he was in and he said “all of them” with a smirk. We chatted a minute, and he was a true professional, just kind. I said I was a Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) staff guy attached to the 10th and 5th (CJSOTF-AP). I went to shake his hand and he “coined” me. This was a highlight of my now “defunct” military career; I resigned just a few months earlier as a Captain/Infantry. Colonel/Special Force Henry Cook presented me with his official coin hand to hand, soldier to soldier, officer to officer. I would never wear a uniform again but wished I did at that moment. Do I miss it? Yes, especially those I was lucky to meet in my career (you know who you are that are serving or have retired).
Henry Cook turns out, was a Special Forces officer for decades. I always wanted to look him up and found out he died. Colonel Cook died in 2015 after a long illness. Per his obituary “Henry first enlisted in the Army in 1953 at the age of 16. The Army sent him home, but he went back in 1955 and enlisted again. He was excited about the Special Forces and joined the elite unit in 1959. He completed airborne training and in 1964 graduated from Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a 2nd Lt., Infantry. His Army assignments included training in three Army branches; Infantry, Intelligence and Artillery. However, most of his time was spent in Special Forces. He was a career Special Forces (Green Beret) officer, having served 42 years of combined duty, active and reserve,and was a Green Beret for 33 of those years. He retired as a Colonel of Special Forces”.