Sunday, August 10, 2014


August 9 - 16
by Alyssa Cole
I’ve spent the majority of my life living on what was the major staging ground for perhaps the most important war in America’s history: the American Revolution.  The names in our Social Studies books were familiar from local maps and road signage: Paulus Hook, Trenton, Brooklyn, Saratoga. In junior high, our class trip was a visit to Philadelphia, where we took pictures of the cracked Liberty Bell on 35-mm film (Zack Morris was the only student with a cellular phone back then, much less a digital camera) and learned about Benjamin Franklin. My class was made up of a truly diverse group of students, but all of the historical figures we learned about had one thing in common: they were white. The only people who looked like us were the slaves and Native Americans used as decoration in the backgrounds of portraits.
Not seeing any reflection of myself in this aspect of history led to a kind of disconnect—while I still enjoyed learning about the war, Independence Day was more about hamburgers and hot dogs than historical reflection. I mean, people like me weren’t a part of that America…or were we? As an adult, freed from a curriculum that tries to squeeze hundreds of years into digestible tidbits and isn’t overly concerned with diversity, I discovered a newfound love of history and realized how wrong I was.
The first official casualty of the American was Crispus Attucks, who was of African and Wampanoag descent, was the first casualty of the American Revolution. Black Americans fought for both the Colonies and the Crown, hoping to gain freedom and equality in a war that had an uncertain and surprising outcome. Native Americans also fought on either side of the battle, with various tribes aligning with those they considered their best chance at survival, or those they called friends. During the infamously harsh winter at Valley Forge, it was the aid of the Oneida Indians that helped the Continental Army survive. Who knows how the war might have played out had the Oneida not offered food and reinforcements?
If you look beyond the basic history served up to us as youngsters, you’ll find that in every war, there have been contributions from people of all races and ethnicities; in each war there were people from more and more far flung lands ready to fight and die for America. Other articles in this edition of the newsletter make that abundantly clear.
Having recently completed a story set in 1776, I stillf ind myself fascinated by the people I researched. The men and women who chose to fight in the war, whether for the Patriots or the Crown, had hope for something better just as our Founding Fathers did. This July 4th will certainly be more than fireworks and fun for me. It will be a remembrance of the people, all of the people, who worked to make sure that America was, indeed, the land of the free.♥
Alyssa Cole is a Brooklyn-based science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie. She is the author of the romantic suspense novel, EAGLE’S HEART, and the erotic short, SWEET TO THE TASTE. She has recently started writing historical romance; her first short, BE NOT AFRAID, can be found in the anthology FOR LOVE AND LIBERTY: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution.

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