In the Eyes of the Law

Until quite recently, the general public had forgotten all about Nathanael Greene’s uniquely noteworthy contributions to American society.  They no longer knew he was a close and trusted adviser to our nation’s first president and founding father, George Washington.  Nor did they know that Nathanael was a brilliant soldier who was instrumental in turning back the bloody British in several key battles throughout our southern states.  Over the past two and a half centuries, the triumphs and successes of Nathanael were sadly, but customarily, consigned to oblivion by multitudes.  That is, until last week, when the calamitous crime of trespassing was allegedly committed, according to authorities.

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Some capering criminal apparently climbed the thirteen-foot, two-ton statue of Nat straddling a steed, and, to comical effect, stuck on a pair of joke eyes.  While we proles laughed our heads off, the establishment collectively clucked and tutted at the visceral desecration of a national icon.

Being from Glasgow in Scotland, my initial thought was bewilderment. Here was an unfamiliar man who had died before our modern age, yet was memorialized with a full-sized bronze bronco on a giant granite plinth.  Such was the fate of generals back then: to receive some commanding, hoof-encoded horsey hallmark, prominently set in the middle of town.  Yet today, most of us don’t know who they are or why they’re there.

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Everyone in Glasgow knows the Duke of Wellington’s statue, and in fact, will often walk by to take a look. This is due, principally, to the incessant ongoing placement of a traffic cone atop the grand Duke’s dome.

Anonymity is not an issue for the Duke of Wellington, who famously defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815, and went on to serve as Britain’s prime minister, twice. Nathanael Greene would be fortunate to have the Duke’s widespread recognition: He has been trying helplessly to make eye contact for centuries.

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