Henry Could Speak to You
by William B. Rogers, M.D.
A nation considers its roots. And in so doing,
it longs to hear the songs of its fathers. It reviews the pictures, it reads the
history, it looks again upon the paintings and portraits. It reads the words.
If the movie, "The Patriot," does as
well this summer as we think it will, the mind of the people (an exercise in
oxymoron?) will be ready for a stronger dose of what made them who they are.
Consider a man named Patrick Henry.
Patrick Henry. The man from Virginia who raised
the blood of his fellows with impassioned rhetoric in the House of Burgesses of
the Commonwealth of Virginia (see: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/patrick.htm)
when their very futures and fortunes lay in the balance, has a voice and a
message that would speak to us today if someone could invoke him into our
Patrick Henry. The man whose story has not yet
been told in the powerful medium of film, but whose story may well follow this
movie coming to us this summer.
Patrick Henry. The man who would call us to
stand this day for that which he and his fellows valued more than life itself:
What a tale could be told!
Have we wondered what we should do in response
to the sounds of chains being forged from the Oval Office in the year
"We are apt to shut our eyes against a
painful truth and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into
Do we lack a compass to chart our course?
"I have but one lamp by which my feet
are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging
the future but by the past."
Do we have difficulty putting the activities of
the present administration into perspective? Listen:
"Let us not deceive ourselves, sir.
These are the implements of war and subjugation, the last arguments to which
Have we tried to reason our way into believing
that our present government has our best interests at heart? Listen:
"We have held the subject up in every
light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. ... Let us not, I
beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done everything that
could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on."
And in response to our peers? Listen:
"Gentlemen may cry peace, peace but
there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from
the North [Washington?] will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!
Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that
gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as
to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
"Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not
what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me
We are now and here in a war of rhetoric on a
battlefield of ideas. But, it will not always be so.
We must know what has come before. We must know
what has been offered and paid to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves
and our descendents.
School children are not taught today what that
great sacrifice involved. They do not know that fully a third of the signers of
the Declaration of Independence lost their fortunes, their families and their
lives. They can not name the men that were hounded across the hills of
Northeastern America finally to be tortured and executed for the signature they
dared to place on that holy Declaration.
Our children cannot sink their fingers into the
soil of this free land and know what a price was paid to secure it for them.
That these children cannot do so is the fault
of no one else besides you and me. Our fault is the definition of
"sin." We shall someday stand in the presence of our Grandfathers and
be made to explain, if we can, how we failed at the task that was given to us.
Patrick Henry has spoken.
We refuse to listen at the peril of our lives,
our fortunes, our sacred honor.
William B. Rogers, M.D.
"I know no way of judging
the future but by the past."
~~ Patrick Henry, American Patriot ~~