This week marks the 235th anniversary of the death of American patriot Joseph Warren (June 11, 1741- June 17, 1775).
As a native New Englander, I grew up learning the names of the great Boston patriots: Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock. But I admit I didn't know much about Dr. Warren until I began researching my book on Revere. Warren was a well-educated and respected physician. He was also an ardent patriot and a fiery writer. His newspaper articles championing the patriots' cause helped stir up unrest and infuriated the British. He became a leader of the Sons of Liberty, and in fact, it was Warren who dispatched Revere on his famous "Midnight Ride" to warn surrounding towns that "The Regulars are out."
In the first important battle of the Revolution, Bunker (or Breed's) Hill, he was asked to serve as a commander. Instead, Warren volunteered to fight as a private. He held off advancing troops to give the militia time to escape, and was killed by a British musket ball. His death was a hard blow to the patriots.
I've been tempted to apply the word hero to many of the subjects of my biographies, from politicians to singers to sports figures. And the word seems to come pretty cheap these days. I hope I shall always remember Dr. Warren when I am so tempted. Take a moment today to think about a true hero, who risked all in the defense of liberty.