Some thoughts from Valley Forge

Lucky to live within a 30-minute drive to Valley Forge National Park, I get to go there often.  Many think the park is at its most beautiful in the spring, with the abundant native white dogwoods and rhododendrons in full display.  That is a breathtaking view.

But it isn't the optimal time to visit.  No, the best time is the dead of winter, with the trees bare.  Only then can you see the expanse of the park.  In fact, at sunset, after a snowfall, the place is hauntingly beautiful.  In winter, you can also easily see why Washington camped there.  He had a great line of sight, especially to the east.  But the holiness of this place is what jumps out in winter, because that is when the suffering and the sacrifice and the death occurred there.  That suffering gave us, the Americans of the 21st century, what we now have, in material well-being and in freedoms.

One of those "freedoms" was a guarantee to protect the right not only to bear arms, but to raise those arms against an established government that no longer gives a damn about its citizens.  We were given protection of that right not to hunt deer or shoot skeet.  Most of those who camped – and died – at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778 came there with their own guns, not government issues.  If one were to tell those men that we, their descendants, were marching now to give up our arms – voluntarily – I don't know if their reaction would be incredulity or retching disgust.  Certainly, they would wonder what they were doing camped out on those frozen hills while their enemy sat in warmth and comfort in Philadelphia.

So think, America – far and away most of the world lacks any sort of governmental respect for this right.  Never had it, actually.  And yet many of you would give it away for supposed safety.  Walk through Valley Forge some winter day and ask yourself how the people who died there of exposure and communicable disease might feel about that.  I would be both ashamed and afraid to ask them.  

Lucky to live within a 30-minute drive to Valley Forge National Park, I get to go there often.  Many think the park is at its most beautiful in the spring, with the abundant native white dogwoods and rhododendrons in full display.  That is a breathtaking view.

But it isn't the optimal time to visit.  No, the best time is the dead of winter, with the trees bare.  Only then can you see the expanse of the park.  In fact, at sunset, after a snowfall, the place is hauntingly beautiful.  In winter, you can also easily see why Washington camped there.  He had a great line of sight, especially to the east.  But the holiness of this place is what jumps out in winter, because that is when the suffering and the sacrifice and the death occurred there.  That suffering gave us, the Americans of the 21st century, what we now have, in material well-being and in freedoms.

One of those "freedoms" was a guarantee to protect the right not only to bear arms, but to raise those arms against an established government that no longer gives a damn about its citizens.  We were given protection of that right not to hunt deer or shoot skeet.  Most of those who camped – and died – at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778 came there with their own guns, not government issues.  If one were to tell those men that we, their descendants, were marching now to give up our arms – voluntarily – I don't know if their reaction would be incredulity or retching disgust.  Certainly, they would wonder what they were doing camped out on those frozen hills while their enemy sat in warmth and comfort in Philadelphia.

So think, America – far and away most of the world lacks any sort of governmental respect for this right.  Never had it, actually.  And yet many of you would give it away for supposed safety.  Walk through Valley Forge some winter day and ask yourself how the people who died there of exposure and communicable disease might feel about that.  I would be both ashamed and afraid to ask them.