A long time ago, in a place not so far away (from me), a bunch of young, untested Britons dressed in the red uniforms of their king’s army was ordered to head out from Boston in the dead of night to a little town named Concord. Their secret mission: to confiscate some arms and powder the “rebels” had stored there and to try and apprehend the known rabble-rousers Sam Adams and John Hancock. British General Gage, who was trying to keep a lid on things, figured that by taking the toys out of the hands of the children he could keep the steam in the pot, so to speak. Of course, word got out very quickly about this supposedly secret mission, and although the British troops moved as stealthily as they could through the night, the alarm was already being raised. There was a dawn face-off at Lexington and someone — we’ll never know who — fired a shot. After coming up empty-handed in nearby Concord, the British army prepared to make the long, ten-mile trek back to Boston. But more shots had been fired, tempers and fears were escalating on both sides, and it wasn’t long before more and more angry minutemen, pouring in from towns all over, were firing on the young redcoats as they began the march back to Boston — first in orderly fashion, and then, as discipline broke down under an onslaught of musketfire and what we would call in today’s language, “guerilla tactics,” in an absolute rout. By the time the war-torn British troops, many of whom had never seen action before, staggered — exhausted, hungry, and pretty much out of ammunition — back into Boston and the protection of the big warship Somerset‘s guns, they had lost over sixty men, with over another two hundred wounded and missing.
America would never be the same, and neither would the British army’s view of just who, and what, they were dealing with when it came to the Americans. Today, any schoolchild can recite the names of those patriotic Bostonians whose legacies have survived the trek down through over 200 years of history … names like John Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. But there is another name, one that is, arguably, even more deserving of remembrance and commemoration … a name that did not survive that trek through history, a name, I’m sure, most people will respond to with nothing more than a blank look and a shrug of the shoulders.
That name was Joseph Warren.
I’ll go out on a limb (or not) and say that without this young physician, there would be no “Fourth of July” to celebrate today. Young, handsome, charismatic and gifted — as an orator, as a leader, as a writer, as an incendiary — the popular Dr. Joseph Warren was, in the words of historian James Nelson, considered by the British to be quite possibly “the most dangerous man in America.” Not Sam Adams. Not John Hancock. And certainly not Paul Revere, who was actually sent on his famous “midnight ride” by Warren himself, and only because Warren was the only patriot leader brave and reckless enough to remain in Boston on that fateful night … Adams and Hancock had fled into the countryside (hence Gage’s ill-fated expedition to apprehend them). We have Dr. Warren to thank for Paul’s ride, and we have Dr. Warren to thank for his huge part in the decade of “rabble-rousing” that preceded and culminated in the events of Lexington and Concord that opened the American Revolution. It was Dr. Warren — through his inspirational, inflammatory editorials in the Boston newspapers, his bold and direct challenges to the (British) government’s “offenses” on the colony, the influence he yielded as a Masonic leader, as an essayist, and as a prominent and respected citizen of the town — who deserves our gratitude. Indeed, when the musket- and cannonballs were flying on that fateful day of 19 April, 1775, and Hancock and Adams were hidden safely away, Warren didn’t remain in Boston. Never one to care much about his own personal safety, the young doctor grabbed a musket and headed straight into the fray himself.
He would die two months later in yet another act of insane, selfless courage at a place we know now as Bunker Hill. He died fighting for the country that he, with the passion and soaring imagination of youth, envisioned. America would mourn his loss as a national hero. Revolutionary warships would be named for him. Every state on the eastern seaboard would name a town or county for him.
But that was then. This is now. Paul Revere (who went on to face court martial after his part in the debacle that was the Penobscot Expedition, the worst American naval disaster until Pearl Harbor) got a poem written about him, so he’s a household name today. Hancock survived and got to put his big fancy signature on the Declaration of Independence. The Adamses need no introduction when it comes to their place in American history.
But Joseph Warren died. He died young, and he died too early, and he died before he could see the culmination of events that he — perhaps more than any other man in Boston — had set in motion. He had no famous poem written about him. He never got to sign the Declaration of Independence, though he was every inch the writer and visionary that Thomas Jefferson was. He never got to be president, though he would have made a magnificent one. I firmly believe that if he had not been shot in the face as he tried to cover the Americans’ retreat at Bunker Hill — a retreat that was only forced because the Americans were out of ammunition — we would know and remember him today as one of the greatest, most famous of our Founding Fathers.
So today, America, as you sit down to your Independence Day cookouts and fireworks and red, white and blue, take a few moments to get to know this forgotten patriot. His modern biographer, Dr. Samuel A. Forman, has written a wonderful book and also devoted a website to him.
We owe much to our Founding Fathers … including the ones who started it all. Thank you, Dr. Joseph Warren!
So, when I re-launched my writing career by taking my out-of-print titles into the domain of e-books, I had no idea that I was also expected to create a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and, horror of horrors, a blog. I had never blogged, didn’t know, really, what blogging even was, and didn’t follow anyone’s blogs. I’d been a Facebook junkie for a while, so there was no learning curve, there … Twitter was something new, but manageable, but this blogging-thing was something that was totally alien to me… and remains so!
Right, so I understand that “gidgets” are chunks of space that you can Put Stuff In that take up residence somewhere over to the right of the screen. But I’m having loads of trouble with these gidget-things! And I don’t know how to follow other people’s blogs and make it so that their blogs show up in a gidget-thing. I don’t know how to make this site all fancy, and I fear that my status as Towering Technomoron is going to triumph over my rather pathetic attempts to get this blog up and moving with a little more fluidity and style than I’ve so far been able to manage…
In any case — thank you for bearing with me!
So … what music do you write to? Read by? Or simply enjoy?
I often wonder what other writers pen their stories to, and imagine they must have classical music on their iPods … or perhaps the soundtrack to a romantic movie humming along as background music, if not inspiration. Those selections never quite worked for me, I’m afraid, and I’ve always needed more “high energy” tunes to drive me. For instance, I wrote much of the last third of The Beloved One with Brit-band Oasis’ magnificent “All Around The World,” repeating over and over on my stereo … I still ADORE that piece (and that band!) after so long, with the sweeping orchestra mated to the pulsing electric guitar and Gallagher’s Lennonesque voice … for the e-book version and its subtle revisions, it was the Bee Gees, especially “I Can’t See Nobody.” I wrote Master Of My Dreams with the soundtrack of Granuaile — with Irishwoman Rita Connolly’s haunting voice standing in as the legendary Irish pirate queen, Grace O’ Malley — in the background, Captain Of My Heart to Amy Grant’s Baby Baby and a bunch of 18th century colonial fife and drum music, and Madonna and yes, even Britney Spears to so much else.
How about you? What music do you enjoy? Write to? Read to?
So far, I’m the only one here, and I suppose that’s a good thing because I am new to blogging and really don’t know what I’m doing. So … this is, I guess, a “test.” Let’s see if I can get it to work! Here is a picture of my old German Shorthaired Pointer
dog, Roscoe, who appeared in The Defiant One under the name “Freckles,” and shows up as himself on the gorgeous new cover created for the e-version by the uber-talented Kim Killion of Hot Dam Designs. Roscoe lived to be 15 1/2 years old, and now waits for me at the Rainbow Bridge. I miss him every day.