Don’t Tread On Me, 02 December 2009


That’s right…just don’t. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. [1]


For those of you who don’t know, this is the First Navy Jack [2] of the United States Navy; this one is currently flying on the bow of the U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia. Somehow, I find it rather appropriate for the Wisconsin to have this flag flying; if you’re having a hard time visualizing why, when you’re head-to-head with the Wisconsin (or any of her sisters from the Iowa-class), you’ll be staring down six 16″ cannons. [3] Its not hard to see why many in the Marine Corps were hesitant to let the Navy place these ships in reserve.

Personally, I also find the motto [4] quite appealing, for obvious reasons (if you don’t know, take a look at the various and sundry posts in the Political section over to the right – go ahead…I’ll wait). Being the stubborn and ornery sort, I swiftly become annoyed whenever someone tries to force me to do something – even if it is for my own good. If it’s good for me, I’ll get there on my own damn time, and in my own damn way, thank you very much. [5]



[1]: Okay, okay…I couldn’t resist. If you don’t know the significance of this phrase, for shame.

[2]: “Jack” in this case meaning flag. See here for some background information (Wikipedia article). Even if, as the article suggests, the flag design isn’t original, it is still appropriate – and certainly in keeping with the prevalent attitudes of the original Colonies.

[3]: Gratuitous link to information on the Wisconsin’s cannons, the 16″/50 caliber Mark 7 United States Naval Gun…because. The fact that a single shell from one of these cannons weighed in at an impressive 2,700 lbs should be a clear indication as to why the USMC would prefer to have these ships backing them up if they ever need to land an invasion force on beach (you know, like all those island-hopping exercises in the Pacific).

[4]: No less illustrious figure than Benjamin Franklin espoused the virtues of the rattlesnake as a symbol and the appropriateness of the motto:

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?

Letter published in the Pennsylvania Journal, 27 December 1775.

[5]: As the saying goes, you get three guesses as to what this refers to, but you’ll only need one. Probably.


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