By Boot Recruit Myra with the help of Paul and Terry Bass
I have some valuables that came to me vicariously through people like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It’s true, I am the recipient of gifts passed down from a guy whose dentures were made of wood, and deceased for over 200 years. But before you bring Sothebys over to my house and start digging in all my life’s earthly possessions for these valuable one-of-a-kind treasures, I asked Boot Campaign Facebook friends Paul and Terry Bass to help me show them to you. They spent time this last fall cataloging these priceless gems while on vacation. As a tribute to the value and worth of these gifts, the Bass’ (some of BC’s first citizens to buy boots) put their boots on for this project. The treasures are so large, they won’t fit in a house, and no matter how big your house is, you won’t be able to keep them. For you see, these valuables already belong to you and every American.
Your first treasure can be found in a beautiful pasture in Vermont. Ahhh Vermont! The land of pure maple syrup and gorgeous mountainous views with which one can soak in their breathtaking beauty any time of year by skiing or hiking, depending on the season. Serene and beautiful as it is now, this is the Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site. It is the place in 1777 where British General John Burgoyne met his first resistance. Known as the Green Mountain Boys, a.k.a farmers, these unpolished men, untrained for warfare, showed up to pave the way to a free country in their overalls with nothing more than crude farming equipment and shotguns for supplies and weapons. While the battle was credited to Burgoyne as a win, his losses were so great the British gave up the battle to tend to their unexpected and massive casualties.
The “hallowed ground” of Gettysburg, as President Lincoln declared it is a gift in remembrance of a nation ironing out its differences and coming to terms with what we believe about how we should operate so that all men are created equal. To this day we still battle out our differences as Americans, only now it’s through the use of a governing process. We’ve learned that it doesn’t take a battlefield with weapons and bloodshed to come to détente with our neighbors, but we can wrestle with each other and come to an agreement which values each of our points of view.
Paul and Terry pointed out a battlefield that should have acute meaning to all of us. It’s one of the few battles that took place during our lifetime, on our own soil. Maybe you never realized that Shanksville, PA is home to the most modern battlefield. In just a few short minutes on the morning of September 11, 2001, the passengers of Flight 93 became “Citizen Soldiers” as Paul likes to say. Knowing full well their destiny, they devised a counterattack to their invasive enemy whose intent was to physically destroy the symbols of our governing process. Like the militia in Hubbardton, VT, untrained for warfare, in casual and business attire and no weapons to speak of, they rallied to war for the protection of their Congress on both sides of the aisle and for their President, whether they agreed with him or not.
So why would anyone consider our national battlefields as gifts? Usually the most valuable treasures we possess are fashioned through hardship. Anyone who has suffered heartbreaking defeat, relishes more deeply the pleasure that comes from a win; no matter the form, if it’s in competitive sports, battling an illness, financial woes, job disparity, loss of loved ones or in formation or protection of a free nation. In processing the loss there comes a love and appreciation for what is gained, a new friendship, a new life, a game-winning trophy, maybe it’s that yellowing card of encouragement, worn from use that arrived in the mail just when all hope seemed lost.
As Paul and Terry took their historical tour, their boots went with them to honor the souls of these men and women whose loss of life gained and protected our liberty. Their actions didn’t go unnoticed either, particularly with people who are not from America. They didn’t intend for their boot tour of national battlefields and monuments to create a stir, but people were intrigued. It provided ample opportunity to tell about the valuable treasures left for us at our feet, a symbol of the gift of freedom, sculpted through hardship for the benefit of generations to come in fields across America.