Friday, May 1, 2009

Benedict Arnold

In memory of the most brilliant soldier in the Continental Army, who was desperately wounded on this spot, 7th October, 1777, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution. 

The words above, etched on a monument in Saratoga National Historical Park, New York State, refer to Benedict Arnold. Once a hero, he ultimately betrayed his country, plotting to turn West Point and 4000 lives over to the British for the equivalent of $600,000.

What is it in the heart of man, that turns them from hero to villain?

Was it the wounds he received, nearly losing his leg? Sitting at home and hearing tales of others called hero, feeling that title slip from his grasp? His desire for greatness and wealth and willingness to use any means in which to attain it? 

Seeing five others promoted over him, a bruise upon his pride? Was it the cool slap of betrayal he felt by his own country as they brought him up for court marshall? Or the public reprimand from President Washington, followed by his private plea for Arnold to return to his noble ways?

There are many ways to dismantle a man, but who knows what resides in the heart, that turns them from hero to villain?

Pictured above: A puppet of Benedict Arnold, created by a 5th grader at Logan's school.


Ronda Laveen said...

And a darn fine puppet it is. Perhaps his ideaology didn't align as well with the new ways as the old when it came to core values. Or maybe he felt he needed security as he was aging and injured. You are right, we can only guess at what turned his heart. I wonder what the $600,000 would worth by today's standards.

Baino said...

Brian there's a Judas in every cause. Since I hail from British stock, well, he's not such a bad guy!That however is a huge bounty by the standards of yesteryear . .His effigy looks like what we used to do as kids ith Guy Fawkes, the bloke who attempted to blow up the English House of Parliament . .we'd make effigy's out of old clothes and stockings and raise money for fireworks! Back in England of course, nobody in Aus knows who he was.

Mrsupole said...

I guess we will never know since the time has long passed. But they say in history that if you are on the winning side then you are the good guys and if on the losing side then you are the bad guys. So to some maybe he was a hero, but I think that evil is evil and it is the ones who do wrong when they think they are doing something good that we have to feel sorry for. The ones who do evil or bad things cause they are evil are bad, well those guys are just assholes and deserve what they get. As to Arnold who knows. Sometimes we never know which they are.

Good puppet for a kid to make. A lot better than I could ever do.

God bless.

Brian Miller said...

@mrsu - i wonder, at what point do we declare someone as evil or bad, it seems such a permanent stamp. agree with the statement on those doing wrong in thinking they are doing right. is there a point when the outcome out weighs the means? does it cheapen the outcome? my, you have spurred me on today. have a great saturday!

@baino - true i guess it depends on whose side you view the story from, the perspectives change.

@ronda - insightful. they did much better than i could on the puppet.

Leah said...

This is an excellent post, and I have thought often of this question in relation to my current crush, Severus Snape. I know, I know, it's a silly example, and I'm not sure whether you've read the books, but his character really did raise some deep issues for me...

Frank said...

My family visited King's Mountain one summer day long ago and I looked for the name of a relative my family said had been wounded while fighting there. I couldn't find the name until my dad told me our ancestor had been a Tory and was listed with the British wounded. I was crushed then but now realize I probably would have been loyal to the mother country myself had I lived back then.

Daniel said...

A very interesting character he was. Makes you think what it would take to turn ourselves. Is there a price? Can we be bought? Folks should be careful to think before they answer never.

California Girl said...

Brian: you are now tagged. am paying this forward from Red Red Whine.