Sunday, May 10, 2009

Heroism and Anti-Heroism

On May 10, 1873, Father Damien arrives on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. He is 33. He will live there as parish priest to the leper colony until he dies in 1889.

On May 10, 1775, American forces under the command of Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen capture Fort Ticonderoga in New York. The 34 year-old Arnold then leads a 1100 men on a heroice but unsuccessful invasion of Canada, where he is wounded in the assault on the citadel of Quebec. He is wounded again, more severely, winning a brilliant victory at Saratoga in 1777. Five years later, feeling unappreciated by his superiors, and having survived a court-martial for mismanaging funds, Arnold enters negotiations with the British. His career doesn't prosper very well in their employ either.

Paul Revere dies, a much revered and prosperous 83, on May 10, 1818. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is only 11 years-old at the time and it will be another 45 years before he writes his famous poem.

Doris Lessing writes in the Sunday Times on May 10, 1992: “The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.”

These and other stories can be found in A Book of Ages.

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