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Swords and Knives: Military History

By: Scott Alexander

To the history enthusiast, any collection of weapons can raise the pulse and send the mind spinning into the past. Military history can be enhanced with each knife, sword, or rifle found. These artifacts are a connection to the events that surround them and bring out the spirit of those that carried them into the conflicts of our past. To assemble such a collection is the dream of any military historian. It benefits those that have access to view and touch the pieces. This is especially true for the great military history of the United States.

Remembering the Beginning
One of the many benefits to assembling a collection of knives and swords comes from the memorial of the beginning. Nations are built on the actions of men who struggle to establish a society that will give them safety, stability, and freedom. The United States springs from a revolution against a global power. This kind of conflict was brought together by a group of colonists who had a need for freedom and liberty and their weapons are filled with the spirit of patriotism. In the history of America, the range of weapons including knives, swords, and rifles can be extensive. The War of Independence is marked by a specific set of black powder rifles, bayonets, officer swords, and personal knives. Such pieces are filled with the honor and patriotism of those that created the country. A pride of the collector found in the air near an assembled collection easily reminds any viewer the exact piece of history that rests before them. The people who used these weapons were fighting to create a nation with a government for the people. It is without a doubt that concept that rests along side these weapons.

Understanding the Struggles
The nation became the ideal of democracy. It found its way through the first decades, but the struggles were not going to end. The development of a national armed force turned to the weapons that would be needed. Knives and swords again come to mark the first century of the country. The War of 1812 and the Civil War are two great struggles that history remembers and collectors focus on as they assemble the weapons used. Each knife and sword carries its own history. From the Marine that fought in Tripoli to the Soldier on the lines in Gettysburg, these struggles have left artifacts and tools that will never

allow anyone to forget the actions that these men took. It is through these pieces of great struggle that we begin to understand the historical context. This perspective shows the decisions leading to the conflicts. With this understanding, a collector can display for a viewer a piece of the battle. It could be a knife used for hunting between the battles or an officer’s sword raised before a line to advance a charge against the opponent. No artifact can mean anything until it is understood: the battles themselves lose meaning. The benefit of understanding gathers around these collections.

Honoring the Participants
Drawing closer to the modern times, the sense of close proximity to the combatants is understood through those who still remember the wars fought. The memories of those that survived the great world wars remain fresh in our minds. The thoughts of those known to have fought in the most recent wars deserve acknowledgement. The honor given and raised for these participants must be memorialized in as many ways as possible. There is no hesitation to create the memorials including the assembling of collections. Collectors of the modern knives and swords present the items as way of honoring those that sacrificed all they had for the country. The sword presented to the officer as he was about to enter the Great War honors the reasons for his actions. It reminds each person that sees it that he was a man with selfless honor. The soldier who crawled through the mud and weeds to strike against his enemy with the knife that had its own history summons the thoughts that brought him to this decision for his country. The tales of sacrifice in each piece honor the men behind the weapon. The benefits of collecting knives and swords are not always for practical reasons. It is more than just saying that these items are part of history. They have intrinsic value that brings the viewer to the threshold of remembering, understanding, and honoring those that have protected this country and will always serve the citizens. The need to never forget this is the duty of every citizen of the country.