The Red Scarf
June 17, 1775. Bunker Hill, just outside of Boston. Hundreds of Patriots were in a showdown against an army of Redcoats. It was an event that would kick-start what is today known as the Revolutionary War: the War of Independence. Of course, none of the men holding tightly to their rifles and swimming in the tension knew what a significant part of history was taking place right at that moment. Little did they know the path that God Almighty was laying for them as they stood tensily at the ready then and there.
Miles Gillian couldn’t keep home out of his head. It had seemed just a matter of hours since he’d left the warm fireside and the sweet atmosphere of his wife Dorthie just a few days before. His mind turned back with ease as he thought of the evening he’d left to fight back against, what is now known as, the Siege of Boston.
“Tonight?” He could hear Dottie’s voice so clearly. “You’re leaving tonight?”
“They need all the help they can get, darling. And soon. The redcoats can’t just be left to squeeze the life out of us. We need to let them know that they aren’t dealing with a bunch of push-overs! We’re serious about all the things we’ve protested about. And the crown ought to know it!” Yet even after his passionate mini-speech, Dottie didn’t look convinced. She looked troubled. She quietly looked out the window and said,
“I understand that, Miles.” She looked from the window to him. “But I don’t like the idea of sending you out into… into… well into who knows what…” She took up and walked over to him. She cupped his face in her hands and said, “I don’t want anything to happen to you.” Miles could see the moisture in her eyes, and he smiled gently as he put his large hands over hers.
“It’s alright. It’s gonna be alright, Dot.” His face grew serious. “But I know what I have to do.” Dottie sighed and let her hands drop to her sides and took a few steps back. She clutched her handkerchief in her hands and looked down. Then she stared out the window again for a moment before turning to Miles again.
“But the scary thing is…” She paused. “So do I.” She bit her lip. “I know what you need to do too. Don’t think I’m opposed to the Patriot cause for one minute.” Her eyes fell. “But…” She stepped up to her husband again and placed her hands over his. “I’m scared, Miles.”
He softly traced a finger across her cheek. “I know, Dot. I don’t think there’s a man out there who isn’t at least a little bit scared.” He smiled. “Well, maybe not General Washington.” They both grinned. Dottie’s face grew serious again.
“Even still… It’s… it’s okay to be afraid?” She looked up into Miles’ eyes hopefully and he smiled reassuringly as he brushed her hair out of her face.
“Of course it is. That’s why we leave the Future up to the Lord.” Dottie nodded, blinking back the tears as she clumsily straightened the lapels on his jacket.
“Well then,” She choked. “You need to go.”
“Yeah,” Miles smiled.
“Right,” She tried to hold back her emotions. “You go and get your things, and I’ll pack you a little bit of food.”
“Okay.” He gave her forehead a kiss before he left to go get ready. Dottie felt like the world was crumbling beneath her, that she was crumbling, as she forced her legs to carry her to the kitchen.
In what seemed like a matter of hours yet only a few minutes, Dottie heard Miles coming down the stairs, and she turned as he walked into the kitchen. He was all dressed to go out with his hat in his hands. She tried to put on a smile as she tied up a little bread and cheese she’d gathered for him.
“All ready?” She asked quietly. He hummed a reply and nodded, and she handed him the little sack of food. Soberly, she followed him out to the sitting room where the front door was. He didn’t like the idea of leaving her alone, but he was confident he’d be back shortly. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her gently. She hugged him back. Neither said a word. After a little while, he stepped back to look at her and gave her a big smile. He turned to lay his hand on the doorknob.
“Wait,” Dottie suddenly said and rushed from the room. Miles stood there for a moment, wondering what she could have possibly thought of. In a moment, she came back with a long, warm scarf. As Miles took in the baby blue color, he realized that it was Dottie’s scarf. It used to be her mother’s, and it was worn by her father when he’d fought in the French and Indian War.
He looked down at her and smiled as she reached up and wrapped it snuggly around his neck. She smiled and said bravely, “For my country.” He felt a lump in his throat as he kissed her one last time and went out the door. She watched him until he disappeared out of sight down the street.
Miles felt the lump in his throat returning as he thought about it. He gently touched the baby blue yarn of the carefully knit scarf with his fingers. Even though it was June, and it was hardly cold enough to wear a scarf, Miles couldn’t bring himself to take it off. It felt like the only connection he had to his precious Dot.
And within a matter of hours the shooting started. It was bloody, but the zeal of the Patriots was not easily quenched by a few British bullets. With all his strength and fervor, Miles shot and reloaded in an endless string. He expected each pop from a British bullet to be the last sound he’d hear. Many would die that day, he knew. And if God willed, he could be one of them.
Before he could process it, a loud bang sounded crisp in the air, and he felt a horrible burning sensation ripping through his chest. His vision blurred, and as he began to fall he looked down to see red pouring from his chest. So much of it; he couldn’t stop it. He felt his strength slowly draining away with his blood as it soaked him. Then, the world faded out, never again to be restored.
If you were to look on that scene at just the right moment, you’d see it. The Patriots, fighting zealously, not for their lives, but their freedom. And with every ounce of strength they had in them, they fought. And you would see too, a fallen man. A scarf wound snuggly around his neck. It’s baby blue color no more evident, but dyed a dark, deep red. And if you had been able to know what had gone on in his mind before it had forever ceased to work, you would have heard those brave words,
For my country.