Mr. Lutz is the editor, publisher and chief writer of The Tocquevillian magazine. He also writes and maintains a fitness website, and has been widely published in print media and on the web, mostly on health and fitness topics and on men's issues.
He is a member of the NRA, the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Heritage Foundation, and Judicial Watch. In his spare time he helps old ladies cross the street and is kind to children and puppies - habits which, admittedly, belie his unusual appearance.
Lutz is available to conservative organizations for speaking
engagements, and may be reached at eic @ tocquevillian.com
The Rally on Hallowed Ground
by Wayne Lutz
(Click here for complete photo-page)
March 18, 2003
I sat with my young son at the top of our back yard late on a warm summer evening. We had a small fire going in the fireplace and hot dogs sizzling over the flames. We were poking at the coals and talking about the brooding woods around us, here at the top of this dark hill.
Our little home is nestled into the southern side of Edge Hill in Glenside, a steep, wooded ridge running Northeast to Southwest, a few miles north of Philadelphia. There was a palpable sense of history infusing the woods that night up on that hill, a feeling that filtered down through the shadowy branches of the trees, mixing with the starlight.
We were enjoying our cookout on hallowed ground, my son and I. The steep backyard where we live our comfortable suburban lives had been consecrated by the blood of patriots, and it was important to me that my boy understand the reverence that I felt.
There was another teenaged boy, I told him, quite possibly just your age, who sat on this same hill among the trees. The boy's name was Joe. Joseph Plum Martin, in fact, and he sat on our hill two hundred and twenty five years ago.
It wasn't a warm summer night when that boy was here, though. It was the first week in December, 1777, and while winter hadn't officially begun, it was already brutally cold. And Joe, even though he was only as old as you are now, was already a seasoned veteran of war.
Joe was cold that night, and he was hungry, and he was very, very tired. He hadn't been paid since summer. He and the other young men serving under General George Washington had suffered two major defeats in battle. Philadelphia had fallen to the British. Washington's spies had determined that the British, commanded by Sir William Howe, were well entrenched in Philadelphia and were far too strong to attack.
But Joe was itching for a fight, so he hoped that Howe would come to them. They were dug in up here on this fortified hill, after all, and felt confident of that position. Besides, they wanted to take out their frustration on some redcoats.
Years later Joe wrote down some of his memories of that night on this hill:
"We had a commanding position and were very sensible of it. We were kept constantly on the alert, and wished nothing more than to have them engage us, being in excellent fighting trim, as we were starved and as cross and ill-natured as curs. While we lay there, there happened very remarkable northern lights. At one time the whole visible heavens appeared, for some time, as if covered with crimson velvet. Some of the soldiers prognosticated a bloody battle about to be fought, but time, which always speaks the truth, showed them to be false prophets."
But a bloody battle was just what Howe wanted, too. He wanted to destroy Washington's army before winter set in. So Joe got his wish, and Howe marched 12,000 British and German troops - nearly his whole army - out of Philadelphia.
But try as they might, the British couldn't find a break in Washington's lines. They moved back and forth, about a mile away, and Washington's troops shadowed them. They tried to outflank the line on the left, right here on Edge Hill, on the bitterly cold night of December 7th, 1777, in a series of fire fights that became known as the Battle of Edge Hill.
But finally Howe gave up, much to the disappointment of General Washington and Joe, and retreated to Philadelphia to settle down for the winter. They were too strong to be attacked, so Washington took his army away too, leaving behind the blood of 90 dead and wounded to seep into the ground that you and I are sitting on now.
Joe marched away with the Continental Army to their winter quarters and settled down for what was to become one of the cruelest winters that any man has ever endured, the winter of his greatest test and trial, in Valley Forge.
If you've been wondering what happened to all the cars sporting American Flags since September 11, 2001, I found them. On Sunday, March 16 they were all at the Freedom Business Center parking lot, a few miles outside of Valley Forge, PA. When we pulled into the lot on that beautiful, spring-like morning, we didn't need the "The Big Talker, 1210" signs to tell us we were in the right place. It was only ten o'clock in the morning, but already the lot was filled almost to capacity with American flag-festooned automobiles.
We found a spot way in the back, and had barely exited the car before making our first new friends of what was to be a day for new friends, a man and woman parked next to us in a car just like ours, American flag-draped just like ours. We had only just arrived and already there was a feeling of camaraderie and shared purpose among the people heading for the busses.
The crowd that was expected was too large to get them all into the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, so the rally organizers had arranged for shuttle buses to ferry the people to and from the event. It wasn't long before we were loaded onto our bus, and at the time we had no idea how fortunate we were. Later we would learn that thousands of people never made it to Valley Forge, but were still waiting in line when the busses began to bring people back. But in keeping with the spirit of the day, rather than become angry or frustrated, those thousands of people held their own rally right there in the parking lot. They sang the Star Spangled Banner, they recited the Pledge of Allegiance (Under God!), they called veterans forward to be honored, and they sought out and honored the families of service men and women now serving in the Gulf region.
Those service men and women were what this was all about, you see. The Rally for America in Valley Forge wasn't a "pro-war" rally, despite some media attempts to paint it that way. No rational person is "pro-war." The Rally for America in Valley Forge, like all the other Rallies for America that had gone before it, was about unity behind and support of our fighting men and women, mixed with a healthy dose of pride in our country.
We sat in the very back of the bus and observed the atmosphere with wonder. Under any other circumstances when you put a group of strangers into a box they would be silent, their eyes fixed on the wall in front of them. But this was the Rally for America, and on this bus it was a party. The 50 people who were wedged inside were fast friends without knowing each other's names.
The short trip to the rally was scenic, but no sight caused more excitement than the motorcade directly behind us, a motorcycle club - a column of bikers stretching off as far as we could see, with huge American flags attached to either side of the bikes. We hooted and hollered and waved our flags and the feeling was sublime.
The bus caravan disgorged its load of Americans and zoomed away for those next in line. As I stepped onto the hallowed ground of Valley Forge I was again keenly aware of the history that had been played out here in this place, and its connection to my own back yard. This was a place where men, American patriots, men who had pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, had endured more hardship than any man should have to bear. Those men made good on their pledge on this ground, and many of them sacrificed their lives, or their fortunes, but never, never their sacred honor.
Today there are a quarter of a million American men and women prepared to risk their own lives in yet another battle for our freedom. Here on this sacred ground, more than ten thousand patriots gathered to honor those men and women, and to provide a highly visible response to the anti-American images that have been transmitted to those troops by the media obsession with protest.
The rally opened officially when a Freedoms Foundation student color guard raised the gigantic American flag on the pole that stood in the middle of the crowded field, and led the multitude in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
"...and to the republic for which it stands. One nation, UNDER GOD..." The crowd roared those words, thousands of voices in unison shouting to the blue heavens, "Under God!"
The first speaker from the stage was Michael Smerconish, radio talk show host. "I don't know about you," he said, "but I've been very frustrated every week turning on the television and seeing the [antiwar] protests. Saddam Hussein might have chosen exile long ago had he not seen "a slice of America" protesting Bush.
"Well, we're a slice of America right here. We're here to support our troops. We're thinking of them. We're praying for them."
Smerconish was inspiring and set the mood for the speakers who followed. Through all the speeches ran the common thread of support of, prayer for and pride in our fighting men and women.
For three hours, and far longer including the waiting time before and after, 10,000 people stood in fellowship and respect and pride on the hallowed, muddy ground of Valley Forge. They were people of all kinds - bikers and babies, old men in veteran's uniforms and young women in jeans, individuals and whole families - good, caring, decent patriots all.
My young son was with me at the Rally for America in Valley Forge. I don't know if my story in the dark back yard that night made any impression on him, but if it didn't, that beautiful Sunday in Valley Forge certainly did. He came away from that day with a sense of who we really are as a people and as a nation. He came away with a sense of the history that made us a people who love liberty. And he came away with a new appreciation for the fundamental decency of the American people, having seen with his own eyes the patriots who rallied for America in Valley Forge.
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© 2002 Tocqevillian Magazine