Thursday, March 26, 2015

#Heroes: Bob and Bill

#Hero Tenet five: Champion.

Champion is a Verb not a noun. 

It means take action on something that matters, 
really matters.

Robert Gould Shaw and William Harvey Carney
Two men drawn of the most disparate beginnings, brought together in greatness, championing the cause of human liberty.

Robert was the son of well-to-do Boston abolitionists and William was born a slave in Virginia.
Robert attended Harvard. William was a passenger on the Underground Railroad.

Both men joined the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

Robert was a Colonel, 
William a Sergeant.

Following the bloody Battle of Antietam Robert Shaw was offered the Commission of Colonel in command of the 54th Massachusetts. A great honor to history, but a great burden of the time. Even to the son of an abolitionist, there was a deep stigma attached to commanding colored troops.

William Carney enlisted in the 54th during 1863 despite the Confederate States public declaration that any colored troops taken prisoner would be immediately executed. 

In July of 1863 both men would take part in the assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. 

The 54th led three infantry regiments in the assault, William and Robert led the 54th.

Their story was captured in the 1989 Oscar winning film Glory:

Robert died upon the ramparts. 

William carried the Colours - the Flag - despite horrendous fire and violence. Even as the 54th broke contact with the confederate force he maintained the Colours safely back to Union lines. 

William was permanently wounded.

He became the first African American to earn the Medal of Honor. 

"Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!"

national archives

Both Men were Champions, giving their all in service to a cause greater than themselves.

My Hero
Benjamin Brawley

(To Robert Gould Shaw)

FLUSHED with the hope of high desire,
He buckled on his sword,
To dare the rampart ranged with fire,
Or where the thunder roared;
Into the smoke and flame he went, 5
For God’s great cause to die—
A youth of heaven’s element,
The flower of chivalry.

This was the gallant faith, I trow,
Of which the sages tell; 10
On such devotion long ago
The benediction fell;
And never nobler martyr burned,
Or braver hero died,
Than he who worldly honor spurned 15
To serve the Crucified.

And Lancelot and Sir Bedivere
May pass beyond the pale,
And wander over moor and mere
To find the Holy Grail; 20
But ever yet the prize forsooth
My hero holds in fee;
And he is Blameless Knight in truth,
And Galahad to me.

1 comment:

  1. Glory is one of my favorite movies. In a time of entitlements, whining and complaining "you do it..." and then whining some more when someone does step up: perhaps we should all quiet down, realize the big picture and champion something other than ourselves. Not everyone can be a hero, but we can all contribute to our family, those we love and even those we may never know. In the end, all we leave behind is the essence of who we were...So thanks for the reminder that there are those who came before us that risked it all for those they would never meet.