“Going to the polls and voting is one of the most important birth rights we have as citizens of this country.” Mike Roark, Russellville Courier editor, Oct. 7, 2012
The year was 1781. Following six years as a soldier of the Revolution, Dragoon Nathaniel Morris mustered out of Continental service. History knows little of Nathaniel — only that he left his Virginia farm in 1775, joining other young men at Williamsburg to serve as a “Minute Man.” He was on the bottom rank — a private. He never advanced in position or privilege.
Years after the war, farmer Morris applied for a government pension. From his statements, we learn he fought from New York to North Carolina — and he shared in common with Gen. George Washington the terrible Valley Forge winter. Historians tell us that Nathaniel and his fellow soldiers trekked without shoes, were clad in rags, consumed meager rations, received little or no payment and suffered hardships most of us softies could/would never endure.
During the long course of revolution, many men served for short periods and did not re-enlist. Others paid substitutes. Some deserted the cause. Nathaniel continuously marched for years before answering a call to join the Light Horse. I doubt he owned the horse on which he rode to battle in South and North Carolina and in Virginia. He was in the saddle when the British surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. Following the war, he received a land grant by a grateful nation. He moved to Georgia where he lies today.
What was he thinking on the night before he signed on as a minuteman? What sustained his ardor for those years of awful trial? I hesitate to guess but hazard this one idea: Liberty.
For several weeks, I have been studying America’s founding documents. I am reading the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and other contemporary works. Plus, I am going line-by-line through the 1870 Arkansas Constitution. In every piece, the idea and the word “liberty” repeats itself. Obviously, Nathaniel was not alone in serving and fostering the cause. In the months ahead, I hope to follow up on this subject. I am no historian and I was not a stellar student in high school or college so I am behind as a scholar. But, as a retired soldier, I do know how precious and how fragile is liberty.
Above, we are reminded that voting is our birthright. Were Dragoon Nathaniel Morris standing alongside Editor Mike Roark from Oct. 22 to Nov. 6, I feel quite sure he would second our calling to the polls. Not to vote is throw away a portion of our right as free people. We vote for liberty. Encourage your fellow citizens. Be a positive example for your youngsters. Our state and the country need you to answer the call. Do it now.
Ingram Philips writes Commonsense Commentary©. He is a Van Buren County constable and president of Care Cap Connections™, a cancer charity that makes and donates head covering. He is a lifetime member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Printed by permission.