Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 5.26.23
On May 29th, we honor our fallen service men and women, having died while serving in the United States armed forces. Memorial Day is a chance for all Americans to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by their fellow citizens, many of whom being friends or family members.
With redistricting, the Ninth District has been expanded to include Bedford and Franklin Counties. During this Memorial Day, I am especially reminded of the Bedford Boys, otherwise known as the Virginia National Guard – Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, one of the American units at the forefront of the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II. When Company A stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, there were 35 soldiers from Bedford. By the end of the campaign, 23 would be dead, making Bedford, Virginia, the town with the highest per capita deaths.
A few years ago, when I took my boys to visit with a D-Day veteran, I showed them the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan. Though a reenactment of that day, the movie depicted what our Bedford Boys experienced, coming off those boats and immediately taking fire from the Germans. Just thinking of the horror brings tears to my eyes. Thinking of their heroism makes me proud to be an American.
I want to thank every serviceman and woman for their service and sacrifice, and also the families and loved ones supporting our soldiers. Their sacrifice allows us to enjoy the freedoms and liberties we hold so dear.
Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start to summer. The weather is warm, schools are letting out, and baseball season is in full swing.
As a history buff, I find connections to our past all around us. In this case, I was thinking about Memorial Day and baseball and was reminded that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cooperstown, New York. Cooperstown has an interesting connection to not only our country’s founding, but also American literature.
Cooperstown was named after William Cooper, who owned the land and was a county judge in the late 18th century, later elected to the New York state assembly.
His son, James Fenimore Cooper, was an American writer, famous for his novels including colonial and Native American characters. His most famous novel, The Last of the Mohicans, was an instant bestseller. In 1992, it was famously adopted into the award-winning movie of the same name.
But the novel I want to talk about, written five years earlier than The Last of the Mohicans, was Cooper’s The Spy. Set during the American Revolution, at "The Locusts", a home in Scarsdale, New York, the novel tells the story of homeowners, the Wharton family, and other characters who seek refuge, both loyalists and revolutionaries, whose allegiances are unknown to the family.
It is widely believed that The Spy was inspired by Cooper’s family friend, John Jay. Jay, a Founding Father of the United States, and author of five of The Federalist Papers, served as the sixth President of the Continental Congress. Later he served as the first chief justice of the United States and as the second governor of New York.
He is also known as the “Founding Father of U.S. Counterintelligence.” During the Revolutionary War, he played a key role directing clandestine operatives and running counterintelligence missions.
In 1776, he headed a New York state executive body called the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies, recognized as the nation’s first dedicated counterintelligence agency. While heading the committee, investigating a loyalist plan for a surprise attack on the core of the Continental Army in New York City, he uncovered a plot against General George Washington by his bodyguards. Having allied themselves with the British, the guards hoped to capture or assassinate Washington. Fortunately for Washington, Jay and his Committee foiled their plan.
After the war, Jay traveled to Great Britain in 1794 to settle unresolved issues between Great Britain and our fledgling country. These efforts resulted in the “Jay Treaty,” which averted another war with Britain. Years later, Jay co-authored the New York State Constitution.
During this Memorial Day period, we should all think of patriots from 1776 to 2023, who we owe a debt of gratitude.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.