The Orangemen in Northern Ireland marched in parades last 12th of July to mark the 326th anniversary of King William III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Fortunately the troubles these “walks” cause have been limited as of late. They have produced many problems in the past being seen by the Irish Catholics as celebrating their defeat and particularly insulting and triumphalist when they march through Catholic areas.
For some 326 years is hardly an old memory. The Serbians still talk about the battle back over 600 years ago in 1389 at Kosovo Polje or Field of Blackbirds where they lost land to the Turks; the Jews talk about a battle going back to 70 AD at the rock fortress of Masada after having ignored it for 1800 years.
Old wounds are hard to forget and easily revived for present day purposes in order to stoke up the home folk. Machiavelli told us a man will more easily forget the death of his father than the loss of his land. The Jews would eventually remember their homeland and recover it; the Serbs continually lament their loss of land to Kosovo; and the Orangemen find their celebration of their triumph over the Catholics is having a bitter taste as they face the consequences of leaving the European Union.
What then about us Americans. We have not been around that long to grieve about lost lands. Our history goes back less than 250 years. What land we took from others is not under threat because of our strength. Our Indians, or if you prefer Native Americans, are well subdued and forced under our tutelage to ensure they remained docile. We gave them some land, not any of the good land we took from them, and let them build casinos or sell tax-free cigarettes or trinkets along the highways of Arizona.
Are there other things to concern us? Unfortunately, yes. At the start of the 20th Century we decided to spread the word of the Gospel to the unfortunates throughout the globe. Having won an easy victory over Spain’s fleet and soldiers we were rewarded ourselves with Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines among other places.
We let the Cubans keep their country but we decided to take the Philippines as one of our possessions. To do that we had to conquer the Filipino forces who initially asked for our help in fighting the Spanish which we gave but then decided to become their bosses ourselves. We ended up fighting and beating those who asked for our help.
Unfortunately to subdue the Filipinos we, following the British example in the Boer war, set up concentration camps and committed mass executions of people, sort of like the Germans did in WWII or perhaps, horrible to say, like some of the things ISIS does today.
We were not nice. If you doubt that recall the order by General Jacob A. Smith who told his troops: “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn the more you will please me.” It was American policy in certain areas to kill any male over ten years of age capable of carrying arms.
We occupied the Philippines from 1898 to 1946. The slaughter took place less than 120 years ago; as noted above that is like yesterday for some. The Filipinos are now remembering and looking for a little payback.
Yes, then there is Mexico. A mere 170 years ago we invaded that country. The Marines stormed the castle of Chapultepec as a prelude to our seizing its capital. At the castle was a military corps of cadets between age 13 and 19 and their commanders. They fought back bravely but eventually all but 6 cadets retreated.
The six are remembered today in Mexico as Los Ninos Heroes with a large monument. (picture above) They refused to surrender and fought and were killed. One supposedly threw himself from the walls of the fort with the Mexican flag wrapped around him so that the Americans could not capture it. For some strange reason the Marines remember this battle where they beat the cadets in the Marines Hymn calling it the Halls of Montezuma.
The Mexicans also remember their humiliating defeat by the superior American forces and their forcible surrender of almost half their land to the Americans that now make up all or part of ten states. Will they too seek payback someday?