Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Empty Boot


North of Albany, New York about 50 miles south of the Adirondack high peaks sits the bustling community of Saratoga Springs. Renowned for its racetrack, spas and mineral water Saratoga vibrates with the tony electricity only money can buy. About 8 miles outside town a wide expanse of open fields and woods has been set aside as a national landmark. It was here in 1777 that one of the most crucial battles of the Revolutionary War was fought. Tourists who take guided tours of the expansive battlefield are puzzled by a monument that has no name - only an empty boot carved into granite.

The boot honors the most reviled traitor in American history - Benedict Arnold. He won the honor by leading American forces to victory against a British force from Canada commanded by "Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne". He lost the honor by betraying George Washington and the Revolution in September 1780, when he sold the defense plans to the fort at West Point to the British. Hailed in 1777 and reviled in 1780, no man in American military history ascended to heroism and plummeted to treachery as rapidly as Benedict Arnold.

If not for his courage of Benedict Arnold at Saratoga and a year earlier at the Battle of Valcour Island the state of New York would be a province in Canada. Benedict Arnold is a true American hero who deserves more than an empty boot to honor his deeds.