Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Things I Value(d)

As I sit here thinking about what was important to me at various stages of life, I have to smile.  I will give you a brief summary of the progression of my early "things of value":

Some of my very first memories include a homemade, wooden stool (painted white) with two steps.  This was specially made for me (around age 2-3) by my Dad so that I could reach the sink in the bathroom.  We had the stool for several years.  Why was a stool valuable?  Well, first of all, it was mine.  Second, it was important for many years as I was too short to reach very many things.  It also came in handy when I was around seven.  I stood on that stool to wash dishes.  Yes, I did wash dishes around that age.  Without that stool I would not have been at that sink washing dishes exactly when one of Santa's helpers peeked in the kitchen window to see who was being good.  Luckily, it was me!

When I was around three we rented a house while our next home was being built.  We had to rent because my Dad had sold our prior house (the "flat-top house") all of a sudden.  It seems that if a good deal came along, it was a sign to sell.  While in the rent house, the two things I remember being important had to do with the next-door neighbors, the Whipples.  Pete and Bryan Whipple were close in age to my brother and I.  We spent quite a bit of time climbing in their apple trees, playing in the drainage ditch next to their home, and watching the hogs get slopped.  The other thing was when Mrs. Whipple invited me in to have fresh, homemade bread.  As they had their own cows behind the house, the bread was served with fresh cow milk - which never quite seemed as good or safe as the milk that came from the milkman.

During the years when I was between four and eight, we lived in "the 2-story house".  We moved into this new house when it was just Mom, Dad, Ron (pronounced Wonnie-my older brother), Sharon (pronounced Shawon-my younger sister) and me.  During these years two more sisters (Carolyn and Paula) were born and we will not get into whether or not either or both of them were "accidents".  It was while we lived in this house that I was rewarded with the exceptional Christmas that was mentioned above.

These years were what I would refer to now, as a boy's dream.  Ron and I had freedom to explore the general area, which included an old pit which had been used as a dump many years before and had old, rusty cars plus the normal items a boy would enjoy from the local dump (such as bottles to shoot with our BB guns).  There was a small rodeo grounds nearby where Albert and I attempted to extinguish a small forest fire with our army shovels and canteens full of water.  (No, we did not set the fire.)

To the south of our small subdivision (two square blocks) was the city park which consisted of a pavilion with it's large stone fireplace and the town's little league baseball park.  The baseball field was dirt, it had no bleachers and above-ground dug-outs.  People sat around the home and visitor sides on the hoods of their cars.  If something really good happened, such as getting someone out at first, several horns would honk several times.  I still remember that George's mom was really loud, all of the time - always finding something to scream about.  It was at this field that Ron set the homerun record for Show Low.  It was not surprising that he could do this because, from my perspective, he was a little short from being a giant for his age.  Even though there were only two and a half years between us, there were several feet of elevation.  He grew tall fast and I grew short slowly.  Our Dad was the manager of the Cardinals so that is where Ron played and I was batboy and score keeper.  Don't get me wrong, I did get chances to play.  Whenever one of these opportunities came along, it made me more than a little nervous.  I was afraid of the ball and consequently played right field - the safest place to put me if the team wanted to win.  (At that time teams kept score and there were winners and losers.)  Rarely did anyone hit the ball to right field, so I could stand out there in my over-sized white and red uniform and pray.  Yes, I did have to bat.  But I had an advantage that helped hide the fact that my eyes were usually closed while the pitch was being delivered.  (If you close your eyes, the ball won't hit you in the face.)  I was so short that my strike zone was only about six inches tall.  In little league, the pitchers were not that good and I typically walked without having to ever swing the bat.

We each had our friends - one of mine I mentioned above - Albert.  He lived across the street and was the son of the doctor in town.  Albert and I got along pretty good.  Maybe it was because we each had our own issues.  His issue was that he had a wooden leg.  There is not a lot of things that make a boy more curious than a friend's leg that comes off at night. 

There were five other boys near the ages of Ron and I in the neighborhood.  We would ride bikes, shoot our guns, explore the woods to the west and north, hunt for pottery and arrowheads, shoot frogs in the cow pond, catch polliwogs and watch them grow into frogs in jars on our carport.  We had dogs and cats that had litters in the wood shed behind the house.  We made ant farms in large jars and had the usual, small turtles which only lasted a few weeks after Easter.  We dug foxholes and made tunnels in the field to the east of our home.  We camped out in the lean-to we made from small pine trees and explored the two old log cabins in the forest.  We were in Cub Scouts together, where we learned about how far a skunk can squirt.

There were no paved streets and when you crashed on your bike, you went home with cinders in your knees and elbows.  This happened to me several times as my bike was a 24 incher and that is a little taller than I was at the time.  In order to get started, I pulled my bike behind my Dad's green and black Dodge pickup and climbed on the bumper.  It being a boy's bike, stopping was a delicate matter and required planning - or crashing.

We had all we could need and want.  BB guns with a "block" of shells in the top of the coat closet, bows and arrows (both were fiberglass bows - Ron's was 35# and mine 25# - with $0.25 arrows from A&A Sporting Goods), pocket knives, army shovels, canteens, bikes, a hatchet, Ron's electric train set, and a bunch of friends.  As I have previously written about the cross-bows Dad made for us, the afternoon naps for a wide-awake boy, and the daily enemas for a brief period, we will not go into those again, here.

I will bring up one story that includes the doctor mentioned above.  One day Sharon stuck a BB up her nose.  (Don't ask me why.)  When Mom could not remove it, she loaded Sharon, Ron and I into our Ford station wagon and we headed to the doctor's office.  Mom took Sharon inside and Ron and I waited in the car.  (At that time you were not concerned about every passerby calling the cops on the parents due to leaving a kid in the car unattended.)  As boys will get bored, somehow or another, by the time they returned to the car, a cinder had been placed in one of Ron's ears.  Mom was excited that it was such a convenient situation, being still in front of the doctor's office - so excited that, as I remember, I was on the receiving end of a spanking when we got home.  I still do not understand why I was to blame without a through investigation.

Sorry girls, but I don't really remember when Mom and Dad brought Carolyn and Paula home, but I do remember when they came home one night after trading in the '55 Ford blue station wagon for a "57 Ford blue and white station wagon.  I also remember that around the time I was seven or eight, we got our first TV - black and white (of course).  It had a converter box that sat on top which was used to fine tune the signal for the one station we received from Tucson, off of Porter Mountain, by way of the TV antenna mounted to the top of the house.  I remember the crank telephone being replaced with a dial phone.  Things were good!

Then, again, Dad came home one day after receiving another good offer.  We were moving, but only to a house to rent in the same neighborhood. 

Now, I have trouble remembering names of people, but our five friends were:  Bobby Knox, Albert Armstrong, Kent Bunger, Mike Birdno, and Jimmy Welkner.  Mrs. Birdno and Mrs. Welkner each had Den Mother duties at different times.  It seems that the "short-term" memory is a factor but the long-term memories are priceless. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Does God Know Your Name?

Where do you stand in your walk with the Lord?  Are you one of the people in line to hear, (Mat 25:23 KJV) "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."  Or, do you feel like you might just be in the line that hears, (Mat 7:23 KJV) "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

From the context, it appears that the later group is surprised to hear that they are not being welcomed into Eternity with God.  These people not only express shock, but back up their appeal with an argument claiming to have worked miracles in the name of Jesus.  The preceding verse reads as follows:  (Mat 7:22 KJV) "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"  Jesus responds by telling them that He never knew them. 

It is passages such as this that should get our attention.  I, for one, believe that many "Christian" churches in America have a large number of members sitting in their pews, believing they are "saved", when they are in great danger of spending eternity in hell.

In the past week I have been asked by two different believers, "Do you think I am going to heaven?" and "Do you ever question whether or not you are a Christian?"  Maybe you have recently thought something similar.  Maybe you have had your thoughts turned to eternity and forced yourself to refocus due to the uncomfortable feeling that followed a sense of insecurity.  For a person to actually verbalize one of the above questions is a positive step in the right direction.  Too many will not let themselves go that far.

If I may make a general statement (acknowledging beforehand that it does not apply to everyone), Americans have grown complacent.  Is it that we are lazy, ignorant, deceived or just plain indifferent?  The following is a definition of complacency, from  "Self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies."

The glove fits many of our hands perfectly!  Many Americans, regardless of the size of their bank accounts, feel fairly self-sufficient.  This past week, I was talking to a minister who is leaving this week to work in Columbia.  He told me that in areas of Colombia, where the people are generally poor and have no financial security, they are praying all of the time.  They do not feel self-sufficient at all.  They openly acknowledge their need and helplessness, accompanied with a dependence upon God.

This scenario seems to fit a situation where Jesus might come up with a parable to make His point, without actually stating the obvious.  Between the poor Colombians who are praying always to God for deliverance and the comparatively rich Americans who rarely pray because they basically have all of their needs met by their own labors or the programs of government, which will be first in the kingdom of God?  To make sure you are not confused, the answer to the parable is not for you to become poor and destitute on purpose. 

In America, most of us who want them, have jobs with decent incomes.  We have the ability to drive to the grocery store and buy what we want for supper.  In fact, we can purchase the food our family will need for the next week and store it in our refrigerators.  In those cases where Americans are unable to buy the groceries for their family, our government will step in and supply free food.  If you lose your job, our government will step up and write you weekly checks.  If you are sick, our government will see to it that you get necessary health care. 

Many within our borders have become worshipers of government and it's welfare programs.  It is Washington D.C. and the politicians who usurped a position where they have become idols in the hearts and minds of many citizens. 

We, as a nation, are complacent, in general.  We are too self-sufficient and self-satisfied.  Why pray for needs when we have none?  This brings up the last part of the above definition, "...unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies."  I am no expert on theology, but from my perspective it would appear that many of us fall into the category of "unknowns" to God.  We sit in our usual seats in churches on Sunday mornings, halfway listening to the sermon and halfway considering where to go for lunch (worried that if the pastor talks too long, the Baptists will get to the restaurants before we can).  We stand and sing along with the songs, maybe even raise a hand while we sing.  The bold ones will say an occasional "amen".  We quickly shake a few hands in the front of the church and head to the parking lot, not to think about any of this again until it is time to set the alarm clock on the next Saturday evening. 

When this pattern becomes our "Christian" experience, do we really believe that we will hear "well done, good and faithful servant..."?  Somehow, I doubt that is in our future.  These "beat-the-Baptists-to-lunch-Christians" would probably all (each and every one) claim to be a believer in Jesus.  They, at some point in their lives, may have "walked the aisle" in response to an "invitation" and repeated "the prayer".  After which, they were assured that they were now Christians, on their way to heaven, "once-saved-always-saved".

Sitting in the same churches, many times, are found those who will hear "well done" and "enter thou into the joy of the Lord".  What is the difference?  Where is the line drawn that divides the two groups?  Theologians could preach a series of sermons on this subject, but let me offer a summary opinion.  When we turn to God and accept Jesus, acknowledging our belief that He is the Son of God who died on the cross in order to offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins, He comes as a package deal.

The complacent believer accepts Jesus as their personal Saviour and uses Him as their "get out of hell free" card.  On the other side of the line are those who have fallen in love with Jesus the Saviour and welcomed Him as Jesus the Lord.  The trouble is that Jesus is not divisible, you either have Him as Saviour and Lord or you do not have Him at all.

What does it mean for Jesus to be our Lord?  Maybe it would help to think of Him as our King.  If you lived in an earthly kingdom, you would be expected to obey the king and serve him however he commanded.  So, with Jesus our King and Lord, he expects us to follow Him as he leads each of us. 

Two other verses from the same passage as quoted above (one just preceding and one just following) are as follows:  (Mat 7:21 KJV) "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  (Mat 7:24 KJV) "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock".

If you believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as your Saviour, it is time to accept the rest of Him - LORD!  "All hail King Jesus"!  We will never regret anything that we gave up, lost, or sacrificed in this life in order to be invited to step across the welcome mat into heaven. 

If you are one who has been thinking a question about your place in eternity, good!  That shows that the Holy Spirit is working on you.  Yield to the Spirit of God and submit your life to serve Him.  That is where you will find assurance. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How Much Do YOU Owe?

If you like numbers, you will love this posting...  This is a snapshot of the United States and where we stand, financially.

For the first time ever, last Friday, on 12/31/2010, the U.S. national debt passed $14,000,000,000,000.  That is $14 Trillion.  With a U.S. population of 310,586,200; the debt equates to $45,000 per person - every man, women and child in the country.  If you are paying attention to current events in Washington, one issue is an upcoming vote as to increasing the debt ceiling for the government.  Currently, the law limits the national debt to $14,294,000,000,000.  That is expected to be reached in three months.

The national debt was at $5,774,546,000,000 eleven years ago.  That is a 143% increase since 2000.  We increased the debt by one trillion dollars since June 1, 2010.  Three years ago it was at $9,249,122,300,000.  That is a 50% increase in three years. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the debt to be $16,971,879,000,000 in four years.  But, based on the current rate of spending, it would be $22,037,502,000,000.

The official number of unemployed is 15,450,000.  The is 5% of the total population and 10% of workforce.  We have 20,500,000 government employees.  Almost 45,000,000 are on food stamps.

The GDP - Gross Domestic Product stands at $14,672,543,000,000.  The debt to GDP ratio is 95.45%.  As the economy continues to suffer and the government spending remains out of control, before long, our debt will surpass our GDP.  This means that the U.S. will owe more than the gross amount of everything produced in the country for a year. 

Currently, $4.4 trillion of our debt is held by foreign countries.  The estimated unfunded liabilities for the country add up to $112 trillion, which equates to $1,012,648 per U.S. taxpayer (110,587,000 taxpayers).

This is not just a national problem.  Many of our States are facing a similar crisis.  Many foreign countries are also in a financial crisis.  The price of a barrel of oil has just passed $90 and is heading up.  The average price of a gallon of gas is over $3.00 and rising.  The price of gold has passed $1,400 per ounce and silver has passed $30 per ounce.

Now for a little perspective.  The current national debt of $14,005,232,800,000 amounts to a stack of dollar bills, laid flat and end-to-end, extending around the world at the equator, being 229 inches or 19 feet high. 

A million seconds is 12 days.  A billion seconds is 32 years.  A trillion seconds is 32,000 years.  If we stopped borrowing and began paying back our debt, interest free (which it is not), one dollar per second; it would take 448,000 years.

(Some of the above numbers were found on

Paul Revere - My Story

Paul Revere – My Story


For some reason, Boston just seemed to attract controversy. It is not that we wanted to be the center of attention, knowing it would bring the wrath of the King upon the people and our little town. But, nonetheless, trouble continued to find us and the center of a revolution is where we found ourselves.

I, though politically minded, was just a businessman. Living right in Boston in a three-story home, I operated a silversmith shop that was only a couple blocks from my home. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, my wares were sought after and I was able to make a decent living for the support of my family.

It may have been that my business being prosperous was one of the reasons I envisioned the unlimited potential that existed in the Colonies if only His Majesty would allow us to pursue our dreams less hindered. And, it was not just me, many of my friends and acquaintances were also growing restless concerning a steady barrage of regulations, restrictions and taxes being levied on the Colonies by England.

Several of us would routinely meet over a meal or drink and the subject would inevitably resort to politics and liberty. Most of us; including John Hancock (merchant), John Adams (lawyer), Benjamin Edes (journalist), and Sam Adams (a natural leader of protesters); were middle-class people. We, and many others at the time, were experiencing a surge in the concept of independence for the Colonies. This wave was spreading throughout most of the thirteen regions and the restlessness was growing among the common people.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone was not in agreement as to the direction that should be taken. Looking back, it seems that around one third wanted to leave well-enough alone and let England rule. Another third were so busy surviving and tending to their business that they chose to remain neutral in the controversy. It was just that the last third of us were keen on the idea of an experiment in freedom that was foreign to the modern world.

There were many “what ifs” running through our minds and bouncing across the tavern tables. What if the Colonies were to break away from England and declare their independence? What if we actually chose our leaders and they were responsible to answer back to us? What if England took all of her soldiers home? What if the burden of taxation was lifted and the level of regulation was gone so that we could prosper according to our ability and hard work?

It seemed that the more we shared ideas, the bigger the dreams became. Once the fire of freedom is set in the hearts of men, there is no happy retreat back into any form of slavery. The amazing thing is that if the King had recognized the direction England’s subjects were taking, he could have compromised and both sides could have been content. It was not a hatred of England that drove us, but a desire for freedom and self-rule. If he had let us have more say in the selection of our governors, more input concerning our laws, less burden under taxes, and a general level of respect from across the Atlantic; war probably would have been prevented. He would still have his colonies as the widespread support would not have grown for separation and we would have enjoyed an increased level of liberty. But, “win-win” was not in the cards being dealt.


For you to better understand my story, it would be prudent to understand who I am and how I came to be the one telling you this portion of our history.

I am a man of average size and possess what is slowly turning from brown to gray hair. My father was sent from France in 1715, at the age of 13 and arrived at Boston in 1716. Back then, he still used his French name of Apollos Rivoire. Being a young man in a new land, he found work with John Coney, a local goldsmith. Upon the death of Mr. Coney in 1722, my father set up his own shop in Dock Square.

Sometime during the 1720’s he took on, what he later described as his “American name”, Paul Revere. My father was proud to live in the New World and learned, early on, that the limits as to what he could do would only be established by he, himself.

In 1729, he married my Mother, Deborah Hitchbourn. They both worked hard, enjoyed each other’s company and soon started a family. The first-born was my sister, Deborah, born in 1732. I was next in line, born in December of 1734. Yes, both of us were named after our parents as that was customary then and still is now. There ended up being seven more children born into the family, but only seven of us lived to become adults.

Another custom was for the children, as they reached sufficient age, to begin helping the parents – girls at home and boys either in their father’s business or on his farm, etc. My family was no exception and as a teenager I began working in the shop, learning the trade of being a goldsmith and silversmith. I also attended school at North Writing School.

When I was 19, my father passed away. This left me, the oldest son, to be the main support for the family. I took over the family business and continued to operate as a silversmith. I not only learned the value of being a hard worker from my father, but I learned to follow the character he demonstrated in his life. He, being Protestant by faith, saw that we attended church and I continued this practice with my family.

In 1756, a couple years after the death of my father, I volunteered to fight the French in the French and Indian War. Being a man of character and being a hard worker, my superiors offered me a commission and I served as a second lieutenant in the colonial artillery. We entered battle at Lake George, New York.

Soon, I was back home to Boston and married Sarah Orne in 1757. Prior to her passing in May of 1773, our eighth child (Isannah, who also died in September of 1773) was born. One other had also passed away in her first year.

Being a widower and having six children, the oldest being 15 (Deborah) and the next 13 (Paul); I married Rachel Walker in October of the same year (1773). Rachel and I also had eight children. Only the oldest (Joshua) was born prior to the beginning of the war. Later on, as we had the other seven children, three died while very young. I was determined to have a son named John. Two of the babies who died young were each named John and it was not until 1787 that I had a son who lived and carried that name. Another son was named after one of my dear friends and co-patriots here in Boston, Joseph Warren.

While married to Sarah, we moved from a small home along Clark’s Wharf to a two-story home with a three-story addition. The frame home was near my shop on the North End, over-looking North Square. Not only was this convenient but it was also a home that would house a large family. This home was near the water of the harbor.

As my reputation improved, my business grew and I soon employed help. We produced a quality product for a fair price. I also took up printing in my shop. One of the most important times for this ability was right after the Boston Massacre. I printed a flyer showing an engraving of the scene where the British soldiers fired on the residents of Boston gathered to protest the actions of England. Five of my countrymen, most of which I knew very well, died as a result. We distributed the flyers around the general area and they helped to convince the colonists to take sides against the occupying army. This event took place on March 5, 1770. Over the next few years the tension grew, not only in Boston, but in the colonies, in general.

(The above mentioned flyer showing the Boston Massacre, which I printed and sold, brought a shadow upon my character. One, Henry Pelham, had drawn the same scene and presented it to me. While I studied the drawing, I became aware of the potential this scene held for uniting the people behind the resistance. Based on Mr. Pelham’s drawing, I did another etching which I could use for making the prints and proceeded to use them as intended. When Mr. Pelham discovered that I was distributing the flyers, he became upset and accused me of taking advantage of him and his work.)

You are probably well aware that this same tension reached another point on December 16, 1773; when we held a little party for the tea-drinking British. We, the Sons of Liberty in Boston, had gathered at the Old South Meeting House earlier in the day to discuss the Tea Act and decide what to do about the three ships docked, full of bundles of tea. As we listened to speakers and had several discussions, we received a message from the Governor that the tea was to be unloaded. This was all we needed to determine our course of action. Samuel Adams delivered the line, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” Some adorned Mohawk Indian attire and many of us proceeded to Griffin’s Wharf where the three ships were docked. We succeeded in tossing 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. You can imagine what the soldiers, who were camping at our Boston Commons, thought the next morning as they woke to find empty tea cases floating in the harbor.

I mentioned the “Son’s of Liberty”, which met at the Green Dragon Tavern. Sam Adams was instrumental in the organization of the men into this group. Our roles, as members, changed somewhat over time. The Boston group became only one, though the most famous, of many similar groups in other towns that served as an organization for action and a source for information. Sam Adams and John Hancock became two of the most vocal of the local men. Each of them also served on the Provincial Congress, with Hancock as the president, once it was organized in October of 1774. They began to gain unwanted attention of the British and the more things escalated, the more the officers wanted to silence them both.

We also formed the “Committee of Correspondence” which was responsible for disseminating written and verbal information, from Boston to patriots in other towns. I was not only a part of this committee, but had the job of being one of the riders who would deliver the information. William Dawes was another of the riders and we each had made several deliveries over a time span of a few years. I had been called on to make deliveries of letters to New York and Philadelphia, multiple times. I also took correspondence to Samuel Adams while he attended the Continental Congress in Massachusetts. There were several other rides that I made to various communities.

One message proved to be very important as later events unfolded. The British had ordered that there were to be no more shipments of gun powder or military stores to the colonies. England also had sent ships to reinforce Fort William and Mary at Portsmouth. As we learned of such events, I was sent to warn the patriots in that area of the need to storm the fort and seize the gun powder stored there, before the ships arrived with more troops. This trip produced the desired results and the men in the area were successful in obtaining a large quantity of gun powder. This proved very important as there were limited supplies, other than that, for use when the fighting broke out.

I mentioned that I named a son after a friend. Dr. Joseph Warren was another of our leaders here in Boston. On March 6, 1775; he delivered a speech to a gathering of men at the Old South Meeting House. The occasion was the fifth anniversary of the Boston Massacre. This event helped stir up the patriotism in our hearts and our countrymen, but also further upset the British command.

In early 1775, at the age of 40, I was one of thirty men who formed a committee and accepted the responsibility to secretly watch the British in Boston. In pairs, were would take turns watching the troops and patrolling the streets. We sought intelligence as to the plans of the enemy.

This finally paid off around midnight on Saturday, April 15th. It was noticed that various groups of soldiers were preparing for some sort of assignment. There was movement in some of their ships in the harbor and smaller boats were positioned near Boston Commons.

The Ride

The “ride” you are waiting to hear about was not the first made with similar warnings. On Sunday, April 16, 1775; Dr. Warren sent me to Lexington to deliver a message to Samuel Adams and John Hancock. At that time, they were both staying at the home of Rev. Jonas Clarke, who was married to a niece of John Hancock. Both were in that area due to attending meetings of the Provincial Congress that met in Concord, only a few miles further from Boston.

The message dealt with the expected movement of British troops (Regulars) and the expected goal of arresting or killing both Adams and Hancock and/or seizing the arms and supplies in Concord. With this warning, a group of around ten armed men guarded the home where they were staying and notice was sent to Concord to move as much as possible out of town, which they proceeded to do over the next couple days.

On Tuesday, April 18, 1775; General Thomas Gage issued orders to his men to march to Concord and seize and destroy the arms and supplies stored there. As General Gage and his troops were stationed in Boston and camped at Boston Commons, the secrecy of the mission was overcome and word got out that the troops would be on the move very soon.

As a part of the Sons of Liberty and being riders for the Committee of Correspondence, William Dawes and I were contacted to ride and issue a warning. About ten o’clock, Dr. Joseph Warren sent a messenger who found me at home. My wife, Rachel, understood the urgency of the situation and knew that I was the main rider used for such purposes as what was ahead of me that night. She, along with the older children, also realized the seriousness of my assignment. As we said goodbye, we both understood that before the night was over, I could be arrested or killed.

When I arrived at the home of Dr. Warren, he told me the intelligence indicated the British possibly had two missions. First, march to Lexington and place Samuel Adams and John Hancock under arrest. Second, march to Concord to seize and destroy the weapons, ammunition and supplies hidden there for use by the Minutemen.

As we were not absolutely sure as to what avenue of departure the troops would use to exit Boston, I had earlier come up with a signal to be used to let various people know whether they would be taken by barge to Cambridge, over Back Bay or exit Boston by way of Boston Neck. Most of Boston is located on a peninsula with the “neck” being the isthmus connecting it to the mainland. If the troops were to be ferried across the water to Cambridge, to the west of Boston Commons, it would actually be faster than if they marched around to exit the town by Boston Neck. Since one of the reasons to leave during the night was the desire to have a surprise arrival at Lexington, not marching out of town was another reason we believed they would go by water. Late in the day it had been observed that many soldiers had been gathering near the lower end of Boston Commons. This was further indication that they were preparing to leave and would go by boat across Back Bay.

There were two friends designated to row me across the Charles River to Charlestown, where I would depart on horseback, I desired to know for sure, by the time I departed Charlestown, which avenue the troops were taking. Plus, others had been made aware of the signal so the warning could be issued if I were arrested before leaving Boston. William Dawes was riding with the same message from Boston, exiting town on the neck. In order to improve the odds that at least one of us would make it to Lexington, we were to take different paths.

My plan was for a signal to be made from the steeple of Christ Church (also called the North Church). Robert Newman would hold one lantern if the troops were marching out of Boston by way of Boston Neck or two lanterns if they were crossing by water. As I was being rowed to Charlestown, the signal was given, using two lanterns.

Once across Charles River, we landed near Charlestown Battery and I proceeded into town where I met up with Colonel Conant, along with others. I explained what was happening. A horse was supplied from Deacon Larkin’s barn for me to use. Richard Devens, who was on the Committee of Safety, told me that earlier in the evening, he had witnessed nine or ten mounted officers going towards Lexington. After he returned to Charlestown and saw the signal, he had already sent a messenger to warn various men, including Adams and Hancock.

By the time I was able to begin my ride, it was about 11 o’clock and the moon was bright. I set out for Menotomy and Lexington, which was about ten miles away.

When I was just about past Charlestown Common, heading towards Cambridge, I noticed two mounted soldiers under a tree. One headed my way and the other went to cut me off further up the road. Both of them were armed. I cut my horse short and turned about. I rode as fast as I could, the horse at a full gallop, for Mistick Road. One soldier followed me about 300 yards before giving up the chase.

I was able to ride on to Lexington, through Medford and Menotomy spreading the warning that the Regulars were coming. In Medford, about 11:30, I woke the captain of the Minutemen and then alarmed every house on the way to Lexington. I finally arrived at Lexington where I gave the alarm to Mr. Adams and Col. Hancock around midnight. About half an hour after arriving, William Dawes arrived. I learned that the British officers who had been seen earlier in the evening heading towards Lexington had passed through town around 10 o’clock and went towards Concord. Rev. Clark told me that three men, from Lexington, had been sent to watch the movements of the officers.

Mr. Dawes and I then set off for Concord, which was another nine or ten miles. Soon we met up with a young man named Dr. Samuel Prescott, who was a high Son of Liberty from Concord and was heading home. We decided to warn the inhabitants along the road. Dr. Prescott knew many of them and they believed the warning we issued. About half way to Concord both of the others stopped at a house to warn the occupants and I went ahead. About 200 yards down the road I saw two officers who were armed with pistols and swords. I called back to William and Dr. Prescott to hurry and come. At that time, I saw four officers who rode up to me with their pistols drawn. They ordered me to stop. One said, “If you go an inch further, you are a dead man.” When William Dawes saw what was happening he turned his horse and rode back towards Lexington. Dr. Prescott caught up and the two of us attempted to get past them, to no avail. They ordered us into a pasture and said that if we did not go, they would blow our brains out. We proceeded to go into the pasture, through the opening in the fence they had made by removing the rails. As soon as we entered, Dr. Prescott said, “Put On!” and he took to the left, jumped a stone wall and made his way to Concord. I took to the right. My plan was to make it to the edge of the woods and flee on foot into the trees. About the time I reached the bottom of the pasture, six mounted officers appeared, seized my bridle and put their pistols to my chest. They ordered me to dismount, which I did. One of them, I assumed him to be in command, in a gentlemanly manner asked me where I came from and I told him. He inquired as to when I left and I told him. He appeared to be very surprised I had made it that far that fast. He wanted to know my name, to which I answered, “Revere”. He questioned, “Paul Revere?” and I told him that I was. As the other officers began to abuse me, he reassured me that I would come to no harm. Feeling fairly bold, I responded that they would miss their aim. He, feeling in complete control, assured me that they would not miss.

He then told me that they were waiting for some deserters that they expected to be coming down the road. I told him that I knew better and that I had alarmed the people in the houses all along the road. I told him I would have 500 men there soon, to which one of them told me they would have 1,500 men. The one in charge rode off to the road and told the ones who stopped me what I had said. They came back at a full gallop and one of them (who I was to learn was Major Mitchel of the 5th Regiment) put the barrel of his pistol to my head. He informed me he would ask me some questions and if I did not tell the truth he would blow my brains out. I told him that I was a man of truth. I asked him what right they had to stop me and make me a prisoner. He proceeded to ask me his questions and I answered him the same way I had before. After they searched me for pistols, he had me mount my horse. Once mounted, the Major took the reins from my hand and gave them to an officer on my right. He then ordered four other men that they had stopped, which included the three men from Lexington sent to watch them, to come out of the woods and then all of us were ordered to march.

Once on the road, the officers surrounded the prisoners and we headed towards Lexington at a quick pace. After about one mile, the reins were given to a sergeant who was ordered to shoot me if I tried to run. About half a mile from the meeting house in Lexington, we heard a shot, which I told the Major was a warning shot. He ordered the other four prisoners to dismount. The saddles and bridles were cut from their horses and they were told they were free to leave after their horses had been chased off. I asked the Major to dismiss me, but he refused and ordered us to begin marching again.

When we were close enough to see the Meeting House, we heard a volley of guns fired, which I supposed to be from the tavern as an alarm. The Major ordered us to halt. He asked me the distance to Cambridge and other questions. He had me dismount, gave my horse to the sergeant to ride, cut the saddle off of the sergeant’s horse and then they rode off down the road. This was about two o’clock in the morning of the 19th of April.

I went across the burying ground and some pastures to the house where I had left Mr. Adams and Col. Hancock and told them what had happened. Their friends advised them to leave the area for their own safety. I and Mr. Lowell, who was a clerk to Mr. Hancock, went with them for about two miles where we reached the house where they intended to stay in Burlington. After resting, Mr. Lowell and I returned to Buckman’s Tavern at Lexington. At the tavern we were told by Thaddeus Bowman that the troops were within one half mile. We went into the tavern to get a trunk of papers belonging to Col. Hancock. From a window I saw the troops and we hurried down to leave with the trunk. While passing through the militia gathered on Lexington Green (which is a triangle of open area bounded by roads) behind the Meeting House, I observed what looked to be 50 to 60 Minutemen gathered. As I passed through them I heard their commanding officer, Captain John Parker order the men to let the troops pass by without molesting them and “Don’t fire unless you are fired on, but if they want a war, it may as well begin here.”

When the troops appeared behind the Meeting House, they halted and then formed lines for engagement. Major John Pitcairn shouted for the militia to “Lay down your arms, you damned rebels, and disperse!” I heard one gun fire, which has later been called the “shot heard ‘round the world”. Then a British officer shouted, “Fire, by God! Fire!” Almost immediately, I turned my head and saw smoke in front of the troops as they opened fire. Several of the Minutemen had scattered and some were taking positions behind a stone wall. The troops ran a few steps and then a large group fired again. Then there was irregular firing and then more as I supposed it was the platoons. By this time I was not able to see the militia as a house was between them and me.

I later found out that of approximately 7-800 British troops which had left Boston, the battle at Lexington was between the Minutemen and around 200 of the troops which were leading the way towards Concord. These troops were under the leadership of Major Pitcairn, who may have fired the first shot with his pistol. During this battle, which only lasted a few minutes, there was one wounded and there were no deaths of British but eight of the Minutemen were killed and ten were wounded, some by gunshot and some by bayonet. Among the dead was Captain John Parker, who was cut down while reloading. By the time the battle was over, the rest of the troops had reached Lexington and all of the British troops marched on to Concord, where they had their second battle of the day.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock were protected from arrest and were safely away from battle on that day. This success, along with the British failure to destroy most of the powder and supplies in Concord, was due to the work of several of us, not just my ride on that night. As the King’s troops made their way back to Boston, they proceeded to burn homes, destroy property, abuse residents and even kill some. The Minutemen continued to attack the troops throughout much of their march. The troops were reinforced near Lexington by about 1,000 additional soldiers. By the end of the day the British losses were 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing for a total of 273 casualties. The Americans lost 49 killed, 41 wounded and five missing for a total of 95 casualties.

Even though it was not safe for me to return to Boston, the next day Mr. Warren, the president of the Committee of Safety, hired me to be in charge of the outdoor business of that committee. I returned to Charlestown and sent message to Rachel for her to gather the important belongings and the children and join me in Charlestown. We resided there during the siege of Boston.

On June 17, 1775, the battle of Bunker Hill took place. In this battle, two of the notable men in the above story were killed. Dr. Joseph Warren, age 34, a Bostonian was shot through the face and his body mutilated by British bayonets. On the British side, Major John Pitcairn was killed.

The British evacuated Boston in March of 1776, after General Washington ordered an attack on the British ships in Boston Harbor. During these months I was employed to design and print money for the government. Soon afterwards, when we had moved back into our home in Boston, I was given a commission with the assignment of helping to protect Boston from enemy attack.

(By: Mike Foil, based on various sources and stories from books and found on the Internet)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fight for Liberty?

In the background on my computer screen is a World War II poster.  It shows some contemporary soldiers marching in front of some colonial militiamen.  The caption reads, "Americans Will Always Fight for Liberty".  There are two words that stuck out to me.  They are not "Americans" and "Liberty", but are "Will" and "Always".  During WWII, there was no doubt that the saying on that poster was true.

Since the 1940's, it seems that every few years America has sent her young men and women to fight for someone's liberty.  This is not to neglect the honor due to those prior to the 40's, but since that time, it has been one fight after another, in one country after another.  American blood is mixed with the water in the oceans around the world and has soaked into the dirt and gravel of countless countries.  There are white crosses that adorn green fields on multiple continents.  One thing that has been for sure, is that America will send her best and brightest to answer the call of the weak to oppose the oppressor.  When the work was done, we have come home, leaving freedom as our signature.

Why do you believe that we do that?  I do not believe it is some ego trip that one president after another is riding.  I do not believe that our citizens produce a superior human that cannot be matched by offspring in other countries.  I believe it is because we, here in America, cherish freedom.  We have been blessed to be a part of the most amazing experiment - the one where the people are free and the government works for the common citizen.  With this rare perspective, we have not sought to be unique, but have fought to spread liberty around the world so that other people in other nations can enjoy what we have.

Even today, Americans are stationed around the world with the purpose of spreading freedom to some and protecting liberty for others.  We are watching as one war winds down in a newly democratic country and one war continues on the soil of a neighbor of theirs.  We are helping to guard the line between the north and south in Korea, as tensions mount.

But, even with all of this evidence, I am left with those same two words catching my attention, "Will" and "Always".  Is it still true that "Americans Will Always Fight for Liberty"?  Will we? Always?  With a sadness in my heart I must admit that I do not believe that poster would be accepted as gospel in America, today.

I am not saying that all Americans fit into any one category, for sure, they do not.  The diversity in Americans is becoming more clear and with wider chasms over the past several years.  There are many who are now fighting and others who would fight for liberty.  But there appears to be a growing number who would not.  Our freedom has been taken for granted and the quality of our liberty has been under attack for several decades.  Many of our current citizens do not recognize that what America now is, is not what America once was.  Many of us still speak of our freedom, but a giant chunk of liberty has disappeared from right under our noses during the past 100 years. 

America is still sending troops to fight in other nations for the liberty of others.  We continue to produce men and women who volunteer to risk everything for the sake of some people they probably have never met and cannot even speak their language.  Somehow, we find that the "Greatest Generation" keeps reproducing themselves.

But, what about here at home?  Will Americans fight for liberty here?  We seem to understand that gaining liberty for strangers is worth a fight and it's value is worth some blood.  We spend hundreds of billions of dollars fighting wars in other lands.  We bury thousands of our sons and daughters and watch many more come home with life changing wounds, physical and emotional.  But securing our liberty, which was bought with much shedding of blood, does not seem to have the same importance with a growing number of Americans. 

I believe this is partly due to an indoctrination being carried out by our government on the citizens and also, that the stripping away of our rights and freedoms has taken place in incremental stages.  We are guilty of allowing the socialist foot to get in the door, just a little bit here and a little more there.  Once they gained a foothold, there was a full-frontal assault against the Constitution and the freedom and rights we have valued so highly.

At the current time, all three branches of our Federal Government are heavily influenced by those who have a disdain, or even a hatred, for the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  They are not only unwilling to fight for liberty, they appear to be fighting against it.  We the People of America, over the past 100 years have allowed this to take place.  They have been very good at distracting us with the right hand while the left hand is stealing from our bundle of rights.  In some ways, we have been lazy, not willing to do the work of holding our politicians accountable.  This they have viewed as weakness and they have exploited us.

Over the past few years, the grassroots Americans have been waking up.  After rubbing our eyes for a brief period, we began to take stock in our situation.  The more we saw, the madder we got.  Now, they have stirred up a nest of hornets and we are just plain p----d o-f!  It's too late to spend time asking, "how did this happen?"  We must jump in with both feet and get busy.  There is no time for retrospective contemplation.  The longer we watch, the further behind we get.

As we begin 2011, we must not relax.  All of us have to be vigilant and keep watch on Washington.  Each and every one of them MUST be held accountable. 

This American has not had to fight for freedom in the past, but I will now!  I do not want to be a part of the last generation who set there in ignorance while liberty disappeared from the shores of America.  The following generations, at least those who learn what America once was, rightly will look back with anger at this time and a shame will rightly fall on those who let liberty slip away without so much as a fight.

"This American Will Always Fight for Liberty".  Will you?