Now that July 4th has become a barbeque bash and America a counter-revolutionary corporatocracy, it’s time to switch over from adulating the Minute Men to a celebration of the proud predecessors of our forces from the private for-profit security sector now standing terrorism alert from the savannahs of Somalia to the karsts of Kyrgyzstan.
They are our up-and-coming first line of offense against those who would keep their countries for themselves. When these Velcro-belted warriors delve into their scrapbooks and pause to reflect on the history of their profession, they too harken back to the fateful summer of 1776.
It was on August 15 on Staten Island that the Hessians first trooped onto our shores. They were immediately flung into combat at the Battle of Long Island and acquitted themselves with honor. The contract combatants were part of a larger force of Brits whose mission was to suppress terrorism and restore law and order. Insurgents had destroyed food stocks, even tossing tea into the sea in Boston. They were rampaging through the countryside and killing loyal troops.
Over the next seven years, nearly 30,0000 private enterprise fighters from Hesse would see battle in the war on terror from Trenton to Yorktown. Thousands would succumb to disease--more than died in combat. Upwards of six thousand would settle here and raise families. Thousands of others would return to their beloved Hesse.
In truth, not only Hessians but Russians, French, Poles and other Europeans served the cause of King George III, America’s sovereign. The colonial insurgents used the name Hessians to denote mercenaries of whatever provenance. People on both sides of the Atlantic had different values in those days and were appalled by the use of hired soldiers. The rebellious colonists were particularly outraged that their monarch was using foreign troops to restore order.
In Europe, “Frederick the Great, a man not over-scrupulous in his own measures, viewed it as an abominable traffic in human lives, and it is said that whenever any of these hirelings passed through his territory he levied on them the usual toll for cattle, saying that they had been sold as such.”
Attitudes are much changed today. We’ve gotten over that particular difference with the king. Not only have we Americans moved from a draft military to a paid one, but business interests have found it to their profit to increasingly substitute for the government when it comes to making war. Given the direction of events in Afghanistan and Iraq, it looks like our future wars will be purely entrepreneurial endeavors. So lets hoist a July 4th brewski to King George and his hired Hessians who paved the way.