A remembrance of lives lost
By J. Chambless
Reenactors fire a musket salute at the conclusion of the ceremony.
By John Chambless
The sharp crack of musket fire, the
acrid scent of gunpowder and the tolling of a ceremonial bell brought
the events of 1777 and 2001 together at the Brandywine Battlefield on
the evening of Sept. 11.
Andrew Outten, the director of education and museum services for the historic site in Chadds Ford, welcomed dozens of people to the ceremony that started at 6 p.m.
“Today marks an important day in American history,” he said. “Not only is this to mark the tragic Tuesday on Sept. 11, 2001, but also to remember the brave men who died here at the Battle of Brandywine, the largest land battle of the American Revolution.
“At this time, around 6 p.m. on Sept. 11, 1777, if you had looked out onto Route 1, you would have seen a frantic Continental retreat out of the area, as the British were crossing at the river and pushing Washington's forces back from the north as well,” Outten said. “Although this was a major loss for the Continentals, the troops were in good spirits as they retreated to Chester later that night, and the army was still intact. We were able to go on to win the American Revolution.”
Choir members from the Brandywine Baptist Church, which sits next to the battlefield, led the audience in singing the National Anthem and “My Country 'tis of Thee.”
Carl Closs, who portrays Gen. George Washington, arrived in full uniform to read Washington's report to the Continental Congress that outlined the events of Sept. 11, 1777. “I am sorry to inform you, that in this day's engagement, we have been obliged to leave the enemy masters of the field,” Closs read. “Though we fought under many disadvantages and were obliged to retire, our loss of men is not, I am persuaded, very considerable. I believe much less than the enemy's. … Notwithstanding the fortunes of the day, I am happy to find the troops in good spirits. I hope at another time we will compensate for the losses now sustained.”
Members of the family of Rev. Marcos Almonte, of Bradywine Baptist, rang a ceremonial bell 15 times to commemorate the 15 years that have passed since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Almonte then stood at the podium to offer a remembrance prayer.
“We remember the tremendous Battle of the Brandywine, a battle which we lost. But we remember that while the battle was lost, the war was won,” Almonte said. “We also remember today the many lives that were lost in 2001, when because of this freedom that we all share, we were attacked in an act of cowardice. We remember those lives lost, and those lost in the years since. We ask, God, that as we remember 15 years, that you do not remove your divine protection that has been with us for so many years. We ask in the same way that George Washington prayed, in his own words, as he said, 'I now make it my earnest prayer that God would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility.'”
State Rep. Steve Barrar spoke next, telling the crowd, “Americans have always understood the cost of war. Not only in 1777, but also in 2001. Our country is the vanguard of freedom and opportunity around the world, and our first priority will always be to defend it. … The Battle of Brandywine depicts the courage and dedication that we feel for our nation, and our relentless aspiration to always fight back. This day also marks the largest terrorist attack on innocent civilians on American soil. It was a day that our nation saw evil at its very worst. But we united as a people, we upheld our beliefs, and we prevailed.
“Today and every day, we need to remind ourselves to uphold the values of America,” Barrar said. “I ask you to join me in faith that we will prevail over this evil that currently infects our world.”
Revolutionary War re-enactors stood solemly during the remarks, and then walked to a nearby field to fire their muskets three times in a salute to the fallen of long ago, and of 2001.
To contact Staff Writer John
Chambless, email email@example.com.