One of my more frequently viewed posts concerns the character of Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson) in the movie ‘The Patriot’. Re-reading this post just now, I am struck anew by my closing sentiments, and would like to share them once again.
(…comparing the character of Benjamin Martin with its real-life counterpart, Francis Marion, a/k/a the ‘Swamp Fox’…)
Just as Martin was made a colonel in the opening war scenes of the film, in real life, in September 1776 the Continental Congress commissioned Marion as a lieutenant colonel. As the fictitious Benjamin Martin’s background included brutal & unconventional guerrilla tactics in the French & Indian War, Francis Marion in reality fought against (and in the process, actually learned some of those brutal practices & techniques from) the Cherokee in that same war. Both men led, and fought with, militia more so than regular army, and their fighting styles & exploits reflected this. Watching this movie gave me a whole new appreciation for what ‘militia’ meant back then. I must’ve used this term a number of times in some of my older posts, but I now see that I had no idea what the militia forces of Revolutionary times were all about. May I say, Wow…much respect. In the above-referenced review by Jon Roland, he cites how Gibson, as Benjamin Martin, and all those involved in the production, should be commended for “giving us a deeper appreciation of the concept of the militia, and how all of us have a militia duty to defend one another. It has done a great deal to revive the militia spirit to defend our Constitution, for which so many noble patriots died.”
Although TIME magazine listed “The Patriot” as number one of its “Top 10 historically misleading films”, and certain events/situations depicted in it raised a ruckus, with critics crying racism & unfair stereotyping (among other accusations) – I think the heart issues in it far outweigh any inaccuracies or possibly misconstrued actions. Heart & substance always trump, in my book…the difficulty of conflicting loyalties, making hard, life-shattering decisions, withstanding enemies/opponents of all sorts! (be it the Empire or your own neighbors/family)…violating or forfeiting one’s own convictions or deeper knowledge of what is honorable, for a cause…tragic, horrific loss on so many levels…sweet comradeship…painful separation…the exultant glory, finally, of victory! “The Patriot” took me places that I think Americans need to be taken, because we were not there back then…but ‘back then’ made ‘now’ possible. We need, and need to know, our heritage, from whence we came. Maybe knowing the names & detailed specifics aren’t necessarily important, in every case, but an awareness of the call that was answered, and the price that was paid for that, should be a part of what each of us is, today. We who become true Americans are NOT separate from those many & courageous Patriots.