USS Bataan arrives at Norfolk Naval Base, 25 June 2003
“Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.” With those words the signers made a commitment to win independence. And won it. A dozen years later, with the constitutional convention just concluding and with the future far from certain, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government we would have. His reply: “A republic, if you can keep it.”It was a warm, early summer day when we entered Chesapeake Bay. I was on board the USS Bataan on a “Tiger Cruise” as it returned home from Operation Iraqi Freedom. As we docked, a thousand members of the “Next” great generation proudly “manned the rails”, showing that they, as had many generations before them, were going to “keep” their republic.
Not far away, but a very long time ago, our French allies had sealed Cornwallis’ fate off the Virginia Capes, and the “First” great generation “turned the world upside down” at Yorktown. Succeeding generations have had their own crises, and made their own commitment to “keep” their republic. This generation, in response to 9/11, has done no less.
There are many ancestors on these pages who served or assisted in the Revolution and our many conflicts since. Although, as best I have so far determined, none were generals, or “made history,” they were a part of it. Ellis Cook was a leader in the New Jersey Militia that covered Washington’s retreat in 1776; Seth Browne was one of the “Mohawks” at the Boston Tea Party and fought at Bunker Hill; Elisha Towner was one of the first Marines; Abiel Sherman was wounded at Fort Independence. And there were more than just a few others who served at various other times. Here is their story.