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Tribute to a Fallen Patriot!

By David J. Smith
March 23, 2012

Snow had fallen heavily most of the night before. The temperature hovered nearly 10 degrees below freezing, but the youngest elected President of the United States, 43 year old John Fitzgerald Kennedy, walked out onto the east portico of the U.S. Capitol on that Friday morning January 29, 1961 to deliver what many historians have declared the greatest inaugural speech ever given. President Kennedy began his speech by paying homage to the beliefs and ideals of our Revolutionary Patriot forebearers by saying: “we dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that revolution” and “that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

I believe the torch that President Kennedy so eloquently referred to in his speech was the very same fiery torch of freedom that burned brightly in Patriot hearts on the night of April 16, 1775 when Paul Revere and others galloped their horses across the darkened and danger filled Massachusetts countryside, waking and alerting Citizen Patriots “To Arms, To Arms!” Upon reaching Charlestown, he carried the flaming lantern of “battle warnings” to the steeple of the Old North Church where it burned brightly atop that steeple piercing through the darkness of an oppressed young nation soon to be born.

A few days later, that “flame of freedom’s quest” ignited the powder of war, when the exploding crash of musketry shattered the early morning calm at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The struggle for freedom and independence had begun in earnest, the die was cast and the war was on. Who now was willing to carry the torch, to bear the perilous burden of the blazing “flame” of liberty, being fully aware of the potentially deadly consequences and enormous sacrifice that may be required to secure the Liberty of a free and independent Nation? Who now?

He was a young man; a boy by many standards. Born in Coventry, Connecticut; he was later described as being smart, mild-mannered and athletic young man while growing up, who was as normal as “apple pie.” He was also pronounced to be an exceptionally handsome young man who was favored by all the best young ladies in town. His parents, Richard and Elizabeth, were considered neither poor nor wealthy; but young Nathan Hale was privileged to enter Yale College at the age of 14 and was a superb student by all accounts. After working hard and becoming a master mathematician and fluent in Latin along with other skills, Nathan graduated from Yale with honors at the age of 18; first in his class with a bright future and long life of relative ease and certainty before him.

After accepting several temporary situations as a school teacher in some rural communities, Nathan settled into a promising permanent position as Master of the Union School of New London, Connecticut. Also, at about this time in 1774, Nathan joined the local Militia. Little is said or known about the extent of what, if any, military training he received; but he was well enough admired by his Patriot brothers-in-arms to be elected to serve as the 1st Sergeant of his Unit.

In April of 1775, the long anticipated colonial war for independence violently erupted in Massachusetts. Boston came under siege by the occupying British forces under the command of British General Thomas Gage and then General Sir William Howe. By mid-June, the Breed’s/Bunker Hill defense had fallen to defeat. Learning of the plight of their Patriot friends and neighbors, Hale’s Connecticut Militia Unit left immediately to join and reinforce the Patriots under fire in Boston; but without him. It is believed that he was immediately prevented from leaving his position in New London due to his contractual agreement with the Union School.

On July 4, 1775, Nathan received a letter from his dear friend and former classmate, Benjamin Tallmadge. Benjamin had earlier gone to Boston to view firsthand the punitive retribution and carnage so cruelly administered to that city and its people for their acts of defiance and refusal to peacefully consent to the occupation and submission to the British realm. Passionately and graphically, Tallmadge wrote Hale of the horrific atrocities and sufferings he had witnessed. “Was I in your condition … I think the more extensive Service would be my choice. Our holy Religion, the honor of our God, a glorious country, and a happy constitution is what we have to defend.”

To be continued 3/31/12

Suggested reading: The United States and British Commonwealth in Bible Prophecy! The cost is normally $22 – but you can receive it for $10 plus $3 shpping.

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