While waiting for my cousin Sharon in the Baltimore International Airport the day before the Inauguration, I found this photo. On the 24th day of President Obama’s presidency, he stood with members of Congress in the Rotunda of our nation’s Capitol speaking about his upcoming first term. Other than noticing how much younger he looked eight years ago, there’s a more significant element to this historic photo. I am the sixth great granddaughter of the gentlemen over his soldier. So is my cousin Sharon Manny Winkler and her sister Laura Manny Norvell. The three of us will be participating in the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.
The irony of having a true revolutionary patriot as an ancestor is not lost on me as I begin one of the most significant events I have ever had the honor to participate in. My Great Grandfather (x6) was Major General Benjamin Lincoln born on January13, 1732. He was an officer of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Appointed by General George Washington himself and second in command, he formally accepted the British surrender at Yorktown. (And yes, he even makes a cameo appearance in the Broadway show, HAMILTON.
After the war, Lincoln was active in politics in his native Massachusetts and served from 1781 to 1783 as the first United States Secretary of War. In 1787, Lincoln led a militia army (privately funded by Massachusetts merchants) in the suppression of Shays’ Rebellion, and was a strong supporter of the new United States Constitution.
There are several renderings of the historical moment in Yorktown, but it is this one that was chosen to grace the walls of the Rotunda. In the knowledge that Barack Obama only has a a few hours left as President of the United States, I found this photo especially bittersweet. I will admit that I did not vote Obama. I have had my own issues with his policies over the last few years, but it was the spirit of the “revolutionary” in myself which brought me 3,000 miles to participate in a movement about human rights.
Benjamin Lincoln was a visionary of his time. In 1787, he was a member of the Massachusetts state convention that ratified the United States Constitution to ensure our rights as American citizens. As well, he believed in diversity and civil rights for all.
It’s for the simplest of basic human rights that I am here today. Some of my closest “friends” and even some family have since questioned my beliefs and concerns, ridiculed my decision to march this weekend and even blamed the influence of my “liberal artsy theatre friends.” The rhetoric which arises from the differing of opinions has been unsettling to say the least. But I only need to look at this photo to know that I am doing what I believe to be right and true to myself.
I will be with my cousins and sisters in our nation’s capitol to make my voice heard. I’d say Great Grandpa Ben would be proud of us. I am certainly proud of him
God Bless America….