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On the Modern Minuteman

Today’s episode is a fairly short one. I want to touch on the idea of a modern Minuteman. It’s something that a lot of people romanticize, but we never really define. In this discussion, I want to talk a bit about what it means to me and what I think we need to do.

This isn’t a discussion about the contents of a go bag or the kind of rifle to bring to the fight. No, it’s about the philosophy of being an engaged citizen ready to put aside individual goals for the sake of maintaining liberty.

Let’s start with a long-ish quote from, of all people, John F. Kennedy.

Today America is the richest nation in the history of the world. Our power and influence extend around the globe. Yet the challenges and dangers which confront us are even more awesome and difficult than those that faced Roosevelt. And we too will need to summon all the energies of our people and the capacities of our leaders if America is to remain a great and free nation -- if we are to master the opportunities of the New Frontier.

The dimensions of our problems overwhelm the imagination. At home millions are unemployed and the growth of our economy has come to a virtual halt. Abroad, we are faced with powerful and unrelenting pressure which threaten freedom in every corner of the globe, and with military power so formidable that it menaces the physical survival of our own nation.

To meet these problems will require the efforts not only of our leaders or of the Democratic Party--but the combined efforts of all of our people. No one has a right to feel that, having entrusted the tasks of government to new leaders in Washington, he can continue to pursue his private comforts unconcerned with America's challenges and dangers. For, if freedom is to survive and prosper, it will require the sacrifice, the effort and the thoughtful attention of every citizen.

In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men -- citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment's notice. Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of America, cannot succeed with any lesser effort.


The fact that someone from the political left would make such a statement as that last paragraph in general will surprise a lot of folks. But realize that even though JFK was a Democrat and the New Frontier program he mentioned was a platform of liberal programs, he still cared a lot about his country. 

In other contexts, we might look at these programs and shout, “Communism!” But the simple truth was that JFK had no love for communists, either. In any case, I’m not here to discuss politics, Overton Windows, or how things have changed in 50 years.

What I am interested in is pointing out is the recognition that maintaining freedom took commitment and engagement from the citizenry. Kennedy was stating that the founding principles of America could not succeed unless everyday people were ready to actively defend them. 

This is the problem we find ourselves in today.

The Minuteman

A lot of folks often confuse the Militia and the Minuteman. Even JFK made that mistake in the quote. In truth they were related, but very different.

Militia service in the 1700s was compulsory. Every able-bodied male was expected to participate in the common defense of their community and state, if needed. Of that militia, a select group were asked to become Minutemen based on their inherent qualities of their youth, strength, stamina, and motivation.

Perhaps more importantly, these men had to volunteer for the role.

I suppose you could liken them to a colonial-era QRF or special operations force. The history of the Minuteman goes back at least 100 years before the American Revolution, though. It wasn’t a new concept by any means.

What I’m interested in is those additional qualities: strength, stamina, motivation.

The Everyday Marksman is all about promoting a well-rounded citizenry through the study and practice of tactical skills. Buying the equipment is the easy part, it’s putting in the work that everyone struggles to do.

Even more important is finding others in the community to do the same. As a culture, we’ve become complacent. We give up taking care of problems ourselves in favor of looking to some government authority, typically law enforcement, to settle the dispute for us. This is counter-productive, as the average citizen feels less and less responsibility for taking care of their country.

The Community Problem

I ran a poll within our community, The Marksman’s Quarter, about how many neighbors would members trust to have their back in hard times. The answer was a paltry 6%. 

That’s dismal. And the even more serious problem is that we inherently feel isolated in wanting to be ready to protect our homes and community from bad actors. People, as a whole, are shockingly easy to influence with “the crowd.” Most people will go along with what the crowd is doing even if they intellectually know it’s a bad idea. That’s how we end up with such widespread riots and poor behavior on social media.

The same thing works in reverse. If enough people model positive behavior, then “people” feel pressure to fall in line and mirror it. 

It’s not going to be easy. In fact, overcoming the media bias and cultural negativity may be insurmountable. But it’s a worthy fight. Keeping our heads buried in the sand hoping that someone else will do it is exactly how our country got where it is right now.

Wrapping Up

I don’t have any fancy pictures for this one. I don’t have a list of things to teach you. All I can leave you with is a plea to commit yourself to the highest ideals of our nation. Find others who are likeminded and work with them to set a better example. 

As Benjamin Franklin said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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