History lesson for Black History Month

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 23, 2014 

In recognition of Black History Month, I would like to salute the courageous Colonial Marines who happened to be black.

In 1814, Britain's Admiral Cockburn issued an emancipation proclamation to all Americans. As a result, over 4,000 slaves were liberated or left farms and plantations in Maryland and Virginia. Hundreds of these free men volunteered to fight and were trained by the Royal Marines. It is well documented that when the Colonial Marines met the U.S. Army at Bladensburg, the latter fled. Following this American defeat, the black marines in their scarlet uniforms entered Washington D.C. and helped chase the Americans into the hills, while the White House burned.

Imagine what these black Colonial Marines thought when they heard the catchy tune about freedom and bravery just weeks later. Written by a lawyer and slave owner, this tune remains popular today "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

As a former Marine (U.S) and history teacher, I salute the Colonial Marines who never believed the myth that slavery was "just the way it was." They understood the true definition of justice, liberty and bravery. As a result of their sacrifice, these veterans and their families were blessed with real freedom for nearly 50 years before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

James Sargent

Bellingham

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