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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

French & Indian War Soldier's Grave - Coventry, CT

The headstone stands in the shelter of low stone wall on a windswept rise of ground in Coventry, Connecticut. It is a place of reflection and some poignancy.

Corporal Benjamin Carpenter, of the 1st Company, D Regiment, a veteran of the French and Indian War, died in 1785, only a few years after a Revolution created a new nation. When he fought for the King did he consider himself English, as so many British subjects in North America who fought in the French and Indian War did? When did he stop thinking of himself as British and start thinking of himself as American? Did it happen before 1776? After? Would he have marveled at the thought of an American flag (let alone a 50-star flag) marking his grave?

We may marvel that Corporal Carpenter lived to be nearly 90 years old, was born in 1695, which would have made him over 60 years old when the French and Indian War began. Not just a citizen soldier, but a senior citizen soldier.

He was in his early 30s when he married Rebeckah Smith, who was some ten years’ his junior. She died three years after him. This child of the 17th century, who became a solider late in life, and lived to see a new Republic born, had this new marble replacement stone placed in during the Great Depression by WPA workers. He might well have marveled at that, too.

Since he is gone, we may consider all these things, and marvel for him.

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