If we contemporize Bunker Hill Day, this is to say, if we bring that day of valor and sacrifice up to the present moment and try to describe it properly, well, several possibilities abound.
First, when we look back on a day when a brave few stood up to a great many better armed and trained British troops back in June 1775, there was the likelihood the rebels, in this case, the Americans, were going to take a beating.
In fact, they drubbed the British forces before they took a beating and had they not run out of ammunition during the third attack, they might have won the entire battle, Charlestown would not have been burned later on and the American victory would have appeared much cleaner in the history books than to celebrate what was certainly a Pyrrhic victory.
What we all must recall during these divisive times when Americans appear polarized by our stale politics and by our inability to face the demons that are playing with our society is that the brave men who gathered at the top of the hill to defend it and to tell the British: “We are done with you. We want to be free. We are free except for you,” weren’t Democrats or Republicans. They were entirely, absolutely Americans, brave Americans, Americans ready to die for what they believed in.
Bunker Hill was not a suicide battle but it was a battle the Americans could never win.
There were no discussions about the lopsided nature of the battle that was coming.
There was a complete understanding that by resisting the British with armed force was going to lead to a much grander battle in the days and months to come for the control of the East coast of the continent and later on, for control of the continent itself.
There were very few divisions, indeed, there was the absence of divisiveness. There was no name calling or political meandering or weak second guessing meant to turn the brave away from the battle that was coming.
Important in all of this is that when people come to this country today from other places in the world to become citizens here, they don’t come here to be Democrats or Republicans. They come to be Americans and they expect the freedoms that Americans enjoy and which they have fought for and died for centuries.
The brave men who cut down the British on their first march up to the top of the hill in June 1775 weren’t Democrats.
The brave men who cut down the British on their second march up to the top of the hill weren’t Republicans.
The brave men who ran out of ammunition as the third wave of British came up to the top of the hill attached their bayonets to their muskets and died like heroes fighting hand to hand.
These brave men all were Americans.
We are Americans first always in battle.
We should recapture this spirit this year and recall the great sacrifice made by those Americans who fought the British – and who died so that freedom could be advanced for the nation that came out of the Revolutionary War.
We again humbly and solemnly praise the sacrifices made by the brave dead who fought here in this neighborhood and who gave their lives so freedom could ring.
We could use some of their bravery and selflessness today in confronting the demons we face at home.