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The Revolution Today: Unknown Soldiers
“I have spent an Hour, this Morning, in the Congregation of the dead,” John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, of the memorable site. “I took a Walk into ...

The Revolution Today: Unknown Soldiers

“I have spent an Hour, this Morning, in the Congregation of the dead,” John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, of the memorable site.

“I took a Walk into the Potters Field, a burying Ground between the new stone Prison, and the Hospital, and I never in my whole Life was affected with so much Melancholy,” he lamented of the trenches’ stench in Philadelphia’s center square. “The Graves of the soldiers, who have been buried, in this Ground, are enough to make the Heart of stone to melt away.”

Stones mark the place Adams walked that day. But they do not herald Adams, they cry out for those unknown soldiers. Today, this memorial is known as Washington Square. A plaque marks the tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution: “Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington’s army who died to give you liberty.”

Such markers of brotherhood transcend generations. While leaving Iraq for Kuwait in December 2006 with a FOX News crew aboard a U.S. Marine C-130 aircraft, Lt. Col. Oliver North had an Adams-like moment.

“Today’s flight, call sign ‘Midas 10,’ is designated as an ‘Angel Flight.’ It carries the flag-draped metal coffin containing the body of a young Marine captain, killed yesterday by enemy fire … Everyone is painfully aware that back home, an American family is going to grieve for Christmas,” North wrote of the somber flight.

After describing some of his observations over Iraq, North concluded with their arrival in Kuwait. “The sun was setting as six camouflage-clad pall bearers reverently carried the flag-draped coffin down the ramp of the C-130. At the command of the pilot who had flown the ‘Angel Flight,’ an honor guard of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines drawn up in two ranks on either side of the ramp saluted the fallen Marine captain,” North reported.

“Where did this detail come from?” North asked a staff sergeant.

The soldiers had come from all over the base. “We do it for every Angel Flight. The same thing will happen when he arrives in the states even if it’s Christmas. He’s our brother,” the sergeant replied.

“‘He’s our brother.’ What an eloquent statement about those who have fallen in this war. No press; no cameras just a simple, moving ceremony honoring one of America’s fallen heroes. As Americans celebrate the birth of the son of God this week, they should pause to thank Him for giving us men and women willing to make such sacrifices. They are America’s greatest Christmas gift,” concluded North.

And whether it’s John Adams walking past a mass grave in 1777 or Oliver North watching soldiers salute the fallen in 2006, the inscription of the Revolution’s unknown soldier memorial applies: “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness.”


Father, thank you for the men and women, the unknown heroes, who have been willing to make such sacrifices for my freedom.

“Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb”

(Genesis 35:20).

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