The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Benedict Arnold, American Patriot?

While we were away on our trip to New England, the magazines piled up along with the rest of the mail. Today I finally got around to reading the May issue of Smithsonian. in which I found a fascinating article about the American general turned traitor, Benedict Arnold. You can read the article online here: Why Benedict Arnold Turned Traitor. According to the article's author, Nathaniel Phibrick, the ultimate reason for Arnold's defection to the British was clear: money. 

The article brought to mind something Dear Diane and I saw in the fall of 2013 while visiting the UK. We had just left Victoria Station on a bus which would take us to Harwich where we would board our Celebrity cruise ship for the transatlantic voyage home. When the bus stopped in London traffic I glanced out the window and noticed a plaque affixed to the front entrance of a building. Here's a photo I took from the window of our bus.

I remember thinking at the time, "American Patriot?", and assuming the words were likely written either by Arnold's family or by some Brit bureaucrat who yearned for the empire's colonial past. No American could have written them. I especially liked the two flags -- British and American -- a nice touch.

The building entrance with plaque
Then I discovered that the plaque is a relatively recent addition to the Westminster neighborhood (1987), thanks to the efforts of one Peter Arnold, whom we are told is not a descendant. (You can read about the origin of the plaque here: American Patriot in London.) This current Arnold believes that Benedict Arnold was greatly misunderstood and simply tried to do what he believed was best for America. Yeah, right! At least that's what Benedict Arnold told himself and others to rationalize and justify his traitorous acts. But what he really needed, and demanded from the British, was cash to keep his new loyalist wife happy.

Yes, Arnold had been a patriot, at least, for a time, but that earlier loyalty to the American cause was wiped out by his one, final act of disloyalty -- disloyalty not only to his country, but also to the man to whom he owed so very much: General George Washington.

Oh, yes, the building displaying the plaque is now the office of an oral surgeon.

Rest in peace, General.

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