Revolution 250 Podcast

Saratoga: The Turning Point with Mark O'Rourke

January 16, 2024 Mark O'Rourke Season 5 Episode 3
Revolution 250 Podcast
Saratoga: The Turning Point with Mark O'Rourke
Show Notes Transcript

Why are there so few—if any—good movies about the Revolution?  Maybe because the right people with the right passion have not made them.  Mark O'Rourke is a veteran of the U.S. Army, and an attorney, and has now launched a new mission—producing a film about :1777:  Saratoga, the Turning Point of the War..  We talk with Mark O'Rourke about the battle of Saratoga, and the film he hopes to have made in time for the battle's 250th anniversary in October 2027, and how you can help get this story to the screen.

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 The year was 1777.
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 It was one of the darkest hours of the American Revolution.
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 Early cries of independence, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride, and shots heard around the world were becoming a fading memory.
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 The harsh reality of toppling the world's superpower to establish a new nation was setting in.
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 The British had just delivered crushing defeats to the Continental armies in Canada and on Long Island.
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 The city of New York had fallen and was under occupation.
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 And now, a force of approximately 9,000 Redcoats was marching from Montreal to Albany to meet forces moving eastward from the Mohawk Valley.
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 The plan was to cut off the head of the snake, New England, from the rest of the colonies to crush the rebellion.
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 The colonists needed a miracle.
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 With limited resources, General George Washington deployed battle-tested leaders and assets to halt the British advance.
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 General Benedict Arnold, Colonel Daniel Morgan and his skilled snipers
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 Another vital asset called upon to defend Saratoga was a talented young Polish engineer, Colonel Thaddeus Kosciusko, bolstering American forces to make a stand at Saratoga.
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 Additionally, an urgent call to arms was issued across New England for every available militia to immediately head to the upper Hudson Valley to reinforce the American army.
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 On September 19, 1777, the two opposing forces clashed at Freeman's Farm near Saratoga
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 The battle ended with a small but very costly victory for the British that left the American army firmly in control of the heights above the Hudson, blocking Burgoyne's path to Albany.
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 Soon after, a massive surge of thousands of citizen soldiers streamed in from across upstate New York and New England to swell the American ranks.
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 On October 7th, a second battle was fought with great ferocity in the forests and wheat fields just north of Bemis Heights, resulting in a decisive American victory that forced Burgoyne's battered army to retreat.
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 Now more than 17,000 strong, the American army cut off, surrounded, and laid total siege to Burgoyne's starving army.
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 Ten days later, on October 17th, Burgoyne surrendered to American General Horatio Gates.
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 Burgoyne's shattered army laid down their arms marking the first time a British army surrendered in history.
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 The surge of citizen soldiers that heroically rallied at Saratoga rekindled America's fading flame of liberty.
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 This miracle, coupled with Benjamin Franklin's skilled diplomacy, persuaded the French crown to both recognize the United States as a sovereign nation and to finally agree to a direct military alliance.
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 The resounding victories at Bennington and Saratoga marked America's turning point in its war for independence.
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 How would this bold experiment to secure individual liberties have fared had the Saratoga campaign failed?
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 How deep the will of these patriots, what fire in their hearts to reject the tyranny of a distant empire and risk life and limb for newfound freedom.
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 It is time to again honor the patriots that heroically answered the call when it mattered most.
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 What all appeared to be lost and their country desperately needed a miracle.
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 Now, another miracle is needed to bring their story to the widest possible audience.
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 What could be more meaningful than America's patriots and veterans banding together to bring this heroic story to the silver screen?
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 The mission is clear, the creation of an iconic and enduring motion picture that depicts the compelling story of how America's fight for independence was saved at Saratoga.
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 Please visit to learn how you can generously support this project, a veteran-owned and operated enterprise.
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 Your involvement is crucial and will resonate for generations.
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 Hello, everyone.
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 Welcome to the Revolution 250 podcast.
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 I am Bob Allison.
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 I chair the Rev 250 advisory group.
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 And our guest today is Mark O'Rourke.
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 And Mark is a veteran of the United States Army.
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 He was a captain.
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 He's a lawyer in upstate New York.
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 And now he is the driving force behind 1777, the turning point feature film about Saratoga.
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 Mark, thanks for joining us.
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 Bob, thanks so much and Happy New Year.
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 And I want to pause to just hopefully a lot of people in New England realize what a gem you are, you know, reading your background and all that you've done over the years to preserve not only Massachusetts history, but the nation's history.
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 And you're just, I think, with the USS Constitution and the Rev 250 Commission and beyond.
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 So your legacy is a lifetime of service.
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 And I'm a history major from college.
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 So I
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 We sometimes need to pause and show gratitude.
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 And so it's an honor to have this discussion with you today.
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 Well, thank you so much, Mark.
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 And it's wonderful to have you with us.
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 And we all are trying to preserve this history and share this history.
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 And one of the questions we've always had is, why aren't there that many good movies about the revolution?
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 Of course, this one is going to change that.
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 But do you have any ideas about why that is?
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 You know, that's a great...
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 I had a former partner who was in the industry, and the refrain seems to be that period pieces are difficult.
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 But if you look at so many movies over the years, The Longest Day or The Last of the Mohegans, some of the best movies in American history are period pieces.
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 So there seems to be this reflexive jaundice against doing period pieces.
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 But I think even after Top Gun, after the pandemic, it was a feel-good movie that
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 You know, Mel Gibson's movie, The Patriot, was entertaining but fictionalized.
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 And I'm glad you asked that question.
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 Maybe just a quick plug.
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 We have involved some of the nation's very best military historians in this project because we want to go big and bold or go home, but we also want to be accurate.
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 So there is, I went down to the United States Military Academy at West Point in the fall of 2017.
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 And James Kirby Martin, a venerable, one of the most prominent historians in the country in this regard.
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 And I also have included Colonel Kevin Weddle, the author of The Complete Victory.
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 He's won a number of awards.
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 But I can assure everyone that our script not only is very, very well written and entertaining and compelling, but it's accurate.
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 And most importantly.
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 Yeah, both Jim Martin and Kevin Weddle have been guests on the podcast, and you have a professional screenwriter who's working on the script, someone who knows how to tell the story.
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 So I want to tell everyone I'm not the genius.
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 I'm a go-getter and an overachiever, but I like to delegate and I like to get the right talent and get it into the mix.
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 And I think there's no question we have some of the very best living historians involved in the project.
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 That's very true.
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 And this is a tremendous story.
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 And just the way you framed that in that excerpt kind of captures it in a new way.
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 There's a lot of drama here.
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 Their stakes are very high.
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 And you also have these extraordinary characters.
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 Well, absolutely.
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 And so, Bob, you know, the impetus for this, I'm an Eagle Scout and I only tell people that because once a month we used to my scout master was remarkable and he had us going every month or every other month to Gettysburg or Battleship Cove in Massachusetts.
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 And we were a troop on Long Island.
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 We were one of the oldest scout troops in the nation.
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 We never went to Saratoga.
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 And I was a history major in college, and we would vacation up at Lake George and the Adirondacks and the Catskills and even Cooperstown.
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 And I have to tell you, it wasn't until I was an adult in my 30s—I'm now 53—
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 that I first visited the Saratoga Battlefield or National Historical Park.
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 And just maybe just to be for brevity, but the more and it's a very special place and it changes one, the more that it is visited and it should, for obvious reasons, it's hallowed ground.
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 But I but it's a great story.
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 And I'll maybe pause.
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 But as further in our discussion, we'll maybe we'll pull out what a remarkable story it is on many, many levels.
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 And it's an untold story and a forgotten story.
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 It really is.
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 Now, what drew you to the story?
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 You know, you never didn't visit Saratoga until you were well into adulthood.
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 And then now you're living in the area.
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 Or what drew you to this?
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 Did you move there because of the story or did you were drawn to the story because you're now living in Saratoga?
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 Great question and a short answer I moved to saratoga county in 2005 and my neighbor is an avid cycler and I was just out of law school and admittedly a little bit out of shape.
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 And I joined a competitive writing group, it was easily the worst member of the group and but they got me into shape in a hurry.
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 But it's a beautiful 10 and a half mile walking, jogging and biking in the park with vistas of the Green Mountains.
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 It's breathtaking in the rolling hills above the Hudson River.
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 But it was some time before I really began to go to the visitor center and look at all the monuments and the plaques and all the signage.
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 And I just, on so many levels, I'll just tell everyone, I was shocked.
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 I said, what do you mean this was a turning point of the American Revolution, like the Gettysburg or the revolution?
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 And the reason that Benjamin Franklin was able to to finally convince the French crown to come into the war, both recognizing us as a sovereign nation and to enter into a military alliance.
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 And then lastly, we can talk about more.
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 But the other I said, wait, this was the direct reason for the first national Thanksgiving.
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 It was really the first major strategic victory of the war.
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 Certainly, Trenton and Princeton were very important victories, of course, as well earlier.
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 It was really arguably the first time we had overwhelming numerical superiority on the field of battle and used it successfully.
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 There's many, many firsts with Saratoga that need to be brought out and accentuated.
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 It really is a tremendous story.
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 And as your clip makes clear, the consequences had, they failed.
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 Had Burgoyne gotten through to New York, the war pretty much would have been over.
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 Because the British were occupying Philadelphia, they were occupying New York.
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 Washington didn't see that as the end, but this definitely would have been a major blow to independence.
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 You know, it's hard to prognosticate, but I think, or at least in hindsight,
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 But I think it was a very good argument to be made that maybe the war drags on for a couple more years.
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 But I think it would have been a near knockout blow.
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 And so that's why.
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 And it wasn't as well, both Jim Martin and Kevin Weddle.
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 It was a complete victory.
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 It wasn't just a tactical victory.
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 It was a strategic victory in every sense.
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 And it really enabled Benjamin Franklin to make a very convincing case, I think, to the French crown.
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 Why do you think it went so wrong for Burgoyne?
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 Well, fortunately, and may I say this as I'm a good Irish American, my grandparents were all from Ireland.
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 But fortunately, a healthy dose of British arrogance played a role.
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 And I think although they were very gifted military leaders, I think there was a lack of a real cohesive alignment between
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 General Burgoyne and General William Howe and even Lord Germain in London.
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 And I think at the day, issues with communications, but I think Burgoyne saw a window of opportunity after there wasn't, after the Battle of Alcor Island, the Hudson Valley wasn't seized in the fall of 1776.
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 But I think the short answer is, and this comes out in a number of the recent books that were done by Don Troiani and Eric Schnitzer and also Kevin Weddle and others, but I think the terrain of the Adirondacks, also the elements of the Adirondacks, a long, hot summer, and his supply lines were stretched.
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 But it was a multitude of reasons.
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 But maybe I'll just quickly say, you know, Jane McRae's murder, it's always hard to assess the impact that her role had on society.
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 sort of recruitment of people to volunteers to come far and wide.
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 But I think the fall of Fort Ticonderoga in early July of 1777 was a shock.
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 And then, of course, Washington really was up against it with General Howe moving towards Philadelphia.
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 And so, you know, there were like a number of things.
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 It was, I think, a convergence or confluence
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 of the factors that really led to understanding that this moment was different.
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 And what they play at the battlefield at the Saratoga National Historical Park is a 20-minute film called Something More at Stake.
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 And I think it was well understood in that summer and early fall that this truly was dire straits.
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 Now, what made you think, Mark, that you needed to make a movie about this?
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 That's a great question, and I hope still this is not a fool's errand.
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 So the ethos for your listeners when you're in the military is support the commander, accomplish the mission.
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 And we're going to do just that.
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 And the reason I believe we're going to do that is the appeal is to the nation's 16.5 million veterans and fellow patriots, our fellow citizens.
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 So we're sort of democratizing this project.
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 And, you know, we're in a new era.
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 We're in a it's never been easier to do independent films, but it's still a daunting task.
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 And so we're going to do this together because we need to.
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 It's one of the greatest stories in American history.
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 But I'm a romantic, Bob, and I who doesn't love the movie Last of the Mohegans with Daniel Day-Lewis, Glory with Denzel Washington.
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 and then others like Last of the Dancers with Wolves, and even Saving Private Ryan.
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 We want this to be an iconic motion picture masterpiece that has an ethereal soundtrack, and the cinematography is just breathtaking.
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 If I could add, one of the travesties, Last of the Mohegans, of course, based off of James Fenimore Cooper's novel,
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 That was largely filmed in, I think, North Carolina and Georgia.
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 New York State then did not have a film tax credit program.
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 So our goal is if we do go to production, and we will, that this will be filmed entirely on or near location in upstate New York.
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 Yeah, and they really are spectacular scenes.
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 We're talking with Mark O'Rourke, and if you want to help out and find out more, is the website where you can find out more about the film, Saratoga, The Turning Point,
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 And really, in the brief clip we saw, you have this tremendous landscape that is really part of the story, and it's hard just to get that from reading a book.
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 And I want to pause to also commend Saratoga County and its leadership.
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 You know, much hasn't been done over the years by the state or in recent years, I'd say the last couple of decades, certainly years ago and creating the National Park and other monuments.
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 Um, and now there is a very renewed and focused effort.
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 Uh, and so there's the Saratoga two and they're doing a really a first rate job in, in, in bringing this history to the fore.
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 And so that's a public sector effort.
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 That's vitally important.
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 And this is a private sector effort.
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 And that was launched about two years ago.
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 And I've been at this for almost 11 years now.
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 Uh, but we publicly launched last, uh, October 17th.
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 We used the data by general Burgoyne surrender.
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 You know, Bob, if I could quickly add for your listeners,
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 I'm a New Yorker, right?
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 And I'm a Yankee fan.
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 So I want to pause and everyone hits to hear the evil empire.
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 But I certainly respect the Red Sox, Red Sox nation.
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 And but my point is, who couldn't envy, if you're intellectually honest, how well Massachusetts has leveraged its history, our history over the years with your Patriots Day and I have the Freedom Trail.
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 And so and one of the things that we hope that if we're successful here,
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 that the turning point trail, so Massachusetts, you guys are good at starting things.
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 You bravely started the revolution, and we owe our thanks to New England and Massachusetts in that regard.
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 They were the tip of the spear.
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 But if you look at it in thirds, then the revolution was saved at Saratoga during one of the darkest hours and, of course, the culminating victory at Yorktown.
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 That's a good way of putting it.
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 And of course, the Henry Knox Trail goes through your area, too.
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 And Jonathan reminds us that 40 percent of the Continental line at Saratoga was from Massachusetts.
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 And actually, more men served in the Continental Army from Massachusetts than from any other state.
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 Bob, that is, as you took the words out of my mouth, just about that is the point I want your listeners in greater New England to know is you may think, ah, Saratoga, it's an upstate New York story.
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 What does that have to do with us a lot?
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 Because you basically New England saved our bacon, the continental army or the American army that was dug in at Bemis Heights or in the upper Hudson Valley along the West bank of the Hudson.
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 was about a one-to-one ratio, roughly, with General Burgoyne's force, but certainly not its equal with weaponry, tactics, leadership, logistics, and the rest.
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 It's really the first surge, I think, arguably, in American history, because the American Army or the Continental Army was about 6,000 to 8,000, that range.
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 It varies, but no less than
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 nine to 10, but maybe as many as 15,000 citizen soldiers from various state militias streamed in almost entirely from New England, some from upstate New York.
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 And if you go to the painting by John Trumbull in the U.S.
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 Capitol Rotunda, and you actually look at the names of
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 of the leaders depicted.
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 Most of them are, to your point, Bob, are generals and officers from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, and mostly Massachusetts.
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 It's remarkable.
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 And I think the preponderance were clearly from Massachusetts.
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 And I look at it this way.
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 Let me wrap up quickly on this point.
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 But where upstate New York helped end the Boston siege because Colonel Henry Knox and his team came and they got the cannons.
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 And of course, the fort was seized by Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain Boys, Ethan Allen in 1775.
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 But there was a lot of help from the locals in New York, upstate New York, to get those cannons to Boston to end the siege after 11 months.
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 But I think it was a great payback, an hour hour of need.
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 when it looked like Burgoyne was going to be able to control the entire Champlain and Hudson corridor connecting Quebec to New York City and New York City was under occupation brutally.
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 And Bob, this is the great point, is it not?
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 They didn't have to come.
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 These were volunteers.
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 They weren't paid.
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 It was the fall.
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 Most of them were farmers.
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 Everyone knows the fall.
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 They're pretty busy with the harvest and their families.
 19:59.249 --> 20:03.351
 And they had already been through a lot in New England.
 20:03.832 --> 20:07.974
 They had been shouldering much of the burden of the revolution, but they did come.
 20:09.139 --> 20:27.969
 When the young nation desperately needed a miracle and all appeared to be lost, the average individual citizen soldier, I call it animated by the defiant spirit of don't tread on me, said to themselves and to their creator and to their fellow countrymen and women,
 20:29.330 --> 20:32.413
 General Burgoyne is going to tread no further down the Hudson Valley.
 20:32.633 --> 20:33.494
 It's a great story.
 20:33.514 --> 20:34.154
 It really is.
 20:34.675 --> 20:36.056
 And you have John Stark.
 20:36.076 --> 20:37.697
 We'll put in a plug for New Hampshire, too.
 20:37.757 --> 20:39.359
 John Stark comes out of retirement.
 20:39.399 --> 20:45.404
 He had left in a snip because he was passed over for promotion, but comes back for Bennington and then Saratoga.
 20:45.984 --> 20:53.010
 And Jonathan reminds us that 100 teams of horses from the Albany area brought the cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston.
 20:53.070 --> 20:57.574
 So we're grateful not only to the men and women of New York, but to the horses of New York.
 20:58.823 --> 21:02.044
 So this is a great lesson, Bob, that Yankee fans and Red Sox fans should know.
 21:02.084 --> 21:04.644
 We had a lot of collaboration over the years.
 21:05.424 --> 21:06.265
 That's very true.
 21:07.245 --> 21:07.745
 Very true.
 21:07.805 --> 21:10.766
 And so, yeah, so it's a great story.
 21:10.826 --> 21:13.946
 And you do have a lot of really interesting characters on both sides.
 21:13.966 --> 21:15.647
 You know, Burgoyne certainly is.
 21:16.727 --> 21:20.428
 And again, he would have appreciated, I think, a film since he wrote plays.
 21:20.788 --> 21:20.908
 21:21.889 --> 21:26.217
 Someone said he imagines that he can cross the continent in a hop, skip and a jump.
 21:26.277 --> 21:32.929
 That is, the things look different on a map than they do when you're actually trudging along the shores of Lake Champlain or the Hudson River.
 21:33.379 --> 21:34.400
 21:34.540 --> 21:36.222
 I think Burgoyne, he was a thespian.
 21:36.722 --> 21:37.543
 He was a gambler.
 21:37.764 --> 21:38.725
 He was a socialite.
 21:38.745 --> 21:42.048
 Uh, it was a very charismatic, I think larger than life figure.
 21:42.068 --> 21:45.732
 I think he helped revolutionize or modernize the British cavalry.
 21:46.352 --> 21:50.697
 And, um, so I think, I think he, and it was certainly a very able thinker.
 21:51.317 --> 21:55.502
 And, uh, I think by all accounts, his plan was sound, but for.
 21:57.708 --> 22:02.011
 The daunting challenges presented by the great expanse of North America and the Adirondacks.
 22:02.511 --> 22:02.752
 22:02.832 --> 22:05.353
 And Guy Carlton had had the same plan the year before.
 22:05.493 --> 22:10.196
 And also you have the von Riedesells.
 22:10.256 --> 22:14.099
 You have not only a general von Riedesell, but his wife who comes along with their children.
 22:14.179 --> 22:18.682
 And she keeps a wonderful diary that's a tremendous source for what's happening in this campaign.
 22:20.609 --> 22:21.910
 Absolutely, Bob.
 22:22.010 --> 22:30.241
 And we always know the story of Hannibal coming through the Alps with just massive amounts of material.
 22:30.802 --> 22:37.491
 And I think when you really read about how much stuff that Gregorian was bringing from Quebec down
 22:38.620 --> 22:46.107
 He really was putting a burden, and he had so many, to your point, he had so many family members with him, and his supply train was quite considerable.
 22:46.167 --> 22:50.972
 And I think it posed daunting challenges for he and his leadership team.
 22:51.372 --> 22:51.993
 Yeah, yeah.
 22:52.713 --> 22:56.757
 And so also some of the other characters.
 22:56.817 --> 22:58.118
 I mean, Arnold appears in this.
 22:58.459 --> 22:58.979
 He's the hero.
 22:58.999 --> 23:00.741
 We're talking with Mark O'Rourke from...
 23:03.022 --> 23:03.242
 23:03.302 --> 23:12.588
 He is working on a major feature film, Saratoga, The Turning Point, which we hope will be released in conjunction with the 250th anniversary.
 23:12.888 --> 23:19.933
 I shouldn't say we hope, we know it will be released at the time of the 250th and will rekindle interest in this.
 23:19.973 --> 23:28.498
 So this is the heroic Arnold, but then you also have characters like Daniel Morgan, who's one of these people we should know more about.
 23:30.110 --> 23:32.231
 Daniel Morgan is our most remarkable figure.
 23:32.331 --> 23:38.595
 And George Washington, even though he wasn't present at Saratoga, he made a number of important decisions.
 23:39.135 --> 23:49.881
 He sent arguably his best field commander, Benedict Arnold, to reinforce the Northern Department early because I think they knew there was a gathering storm early in that summer.
 23:50.121 --> 23:55.184
 And especially once Fort Ticonderoga fell and General Philip Schuyler was replaced,
 23:55.664 --> 23:57.445
 They really had to send some key leaders.
 23:57.485 --> 24:03.386
 So a bandit Arnold was sent and then Colonel Daniel Morgan and his sharpshooters for 400 or so.
 24:03.586 --> 24:08.768
 And they had the best rifles of the day, even better than the British and the smoothbore rifling.
 24:09.368 --> 24:17.890
 And they were able to decimate the officer ranks in both of the battles at Saratoga on September 19th and October.
 24:19.511 --> 24:24.352
 And he all throughout American history in the French and Indian War, up with the invasion of Quebec,
 24:25.669 --> 24:33.436
 at Saratoga and later at Cowpens, but Daniel Morgan is someone that history buffs should really get to know because he's a very compelling figure.
 24:33.776 --> 24:36.478
 He even named his estate in Virginia, uh, Saratoga.
 24:36.498 --> 24:37.299
 Oh, is that right?
 24:37.519 --> 24:38.280
 24:38.921 --> 24:39.921
 So a real Patriot.
 24:40.882 --> 24:42.644
 I'd love to add, of course, Colonel, uh,
 24:43.783 --> 24:47.045
 Colonel Kaszuszko, Dariusz Kaszuszko was sent.
 24:47.085 --> 24:48.206
 He was just a prodigy.
 24:48.626 --> 24:57.713
 And, you know, a lot of people associate him with being a hero in Poland, but it's my understanding that it's even other parts of Eastern Europe, I think Belarus and even Lithuania.
 24:58.513 --> 25:04.077
 So he, and, you know, Jefferson said there was no truer son of liberty than Kaszuszko.
 25:04.117 --> 25:08.881
 And he actually admonished and urged a lot of the founding fathers to,
 25:10.054 --> 25:14.419
 really put into practice or make good on the aspirations of the Declaration.
 25:14.439 --> 25:22.768
 You know, even here we're a day after Martin Luther King Day, but he wanted emancipation even at that point for the American slaves.
 25:22.828 --> 25:28.354
 So he was a... But on his engineering feats, we owe him a great debt of gratitude.
 25:28.414 --> 25:28.554
 25:29.415 --> 25:44.225
 fortifications at Saratoga where they're really the reason that General Burgoyne was not able to advance further down river and had come into terrain, steep and wooded terrain, hilly terrain that was favorable to the Americans.
 25:45.225 --> 25:47.807
 Really remarkable for a young person of his age at the time.
 25:48.311 --> 25:48.811
 It really is.
 25:48.891 --> 25:55.094
 And then Agrippa Hull is one of his friends, an African-American from Massachusetts whom he befriends.
 25:55.154 --> 26:02.558
 And they maintain this relationship after Kosciuszko goes back to Poland and Agrippa Hull is on his farm in Western Massachusetts.
 26:03.458 --> 26:05.059
 Agrippa Hull is a wonderful figure.
 26:05.079 --> 26:08.960
 And again, if folks don't know him, and I believe he was from Stockbridge.
 26:09.441 --> 26:11.442
 He was the elder statesman of the town.
 26:11.462 --> 26:13.463
 And here's a great story.
 26:14.343 --> 26:15.944
 After Kosciuszko was long gone,
 26:16.884 --> 26:25.168
 Here was an African-American person, I think it was in the 1830s, and Agrippal Hall was an elderly at this point, but it was still a sound mind and body.
 26:25.929 --> 26:40.636
 He was brought to speak before the entire cadet corps at West Point, because before it was a military academy, it was the main fortress of fortification on the Hudson, and it was completed per the guidance of Kashushka.
 26:41.977 --> 26:50.865
 We don't know exactly when, or I don't, I should say, when the relationship between Kosciuszko and Agrippa Hall was started, but I think
 26:51.445 --> 26:54.227
 there's a case to be made that they did indeed meet at Saratoga.
 26:54.848 --> 27:01.713
 And it's my understanding that he was by Kosciuszko's side for the remainder of the war, for the next six plus years.
 27:02.414 --> 27:04.595
 And there was an incredible respect and friendship.
 27:05.536 --> 27:06.757
 So it's a great story.
 27:06.777 --> 27:10.760
 And the other African-American from Massachusetts, there were others.
 27:10.800 --> 27:15.043
 There were about 500 free and enslaved that were at the Battle of Saratoga.
 27:15.604 --> 27:16.585
 The ranks were integrated.
 27:16.625 --> 27:19.067
 They fought shoulder to shoulder in the American ranks.
 27:19.875 --> 27:22.416
 but was Peter Salem, one of the heroes of Bunker Hill.
 27:22.797 --> 27:32.722
 So it's important that folks, when they look at the revolution, not think that this, in a jaundiced way, was just a certain demographic that won the day.
 27:32.902 --> 27:34.203
 No, it's a great story.
 27:34.263 --> 27:39.646
 And I'll also quickly thread in there the Stockbridge militia from Western Massachusetts.
 27:40.106 --> 27:45.970
 The Native American tribes of the Munsee, the Mohegan, and the Wappinger also made vital contributions.
 27:46.030 --> 27:46.350
 They were
 27:47.626 --> 27:53.411
 Arguably, their bravery was renowned, and they suffered mightily for the American cause.
 27:54.132 --> 27:54.492
 They did.
 27:54.812 --> 27:55.533
 They certainly did.
 27:56.754 --> 28:03.079
 On the other side, also, you have Joseph Brandt and other of the Iroquois and Mohawk who were with the British here.
 28:03.159 --> 28:07.303
 And that, again, gets back to the story of Jane McRae and her tragic end.
 28:08.137 --> 28:09.698
 Well, Bob, that's a great point.
 28:09.738 --> 28:16.161
 And it was it was they called a place of the great sadness out in Oriskany in New York, right off the New York State Thruway.
 28:16.201 --> 28:21.883
 But it was the first time that the Iroquois Nation, to my understanding, was divided and actually fought itself.
 28:21.923 --> 28:29.286
 So the Oneida and the Tuscarora were on the American side and the rest of the Iroquois Nation was on the British side.
 28:29.406 --> 28:30.467
 And of course,
 28:31.471 --> 28:34.598
 because of the outcome of the war that had incredible consequences.
 28:34.618 --> 28:39.650
 And even for General Sullivan's expedition, the Iroquois nation.
 28:42.358 --> 28:44.439
 We're talking with Mark O'Rourke.
 28:45.719 --> 28:52.961 is the website for the feature film he is overseeing on Saratoga, the turning point of the war.
 28:52.982 --> 29:06.906
 Really an episode of great drama, great characters, great importance, the rising of this militia force to come to the aid of the Continental Army in upstate New York to prevent General Burgoyne from
 29:07.566 --> 29:09.027
 coming down the Hudson River.
 29:09.707 --> 29:12.628
 Let's just talk a little bit about logistics of making a movie.
 29:12.648 --> 29:15.189
 And we know these are very expensive things.
 29:16.249 --> 29:19.471
 And maybe there's a listener out there who would like to contribute to this.
 29:19.871 --> 29:22.972
 So what do you need in order to make this happen?
 29:23.868 --> 29:24.669
 Well, Bob, thank you.
 29:24.689 --> 29:26.530
 That's probably the most pertinent question.
 29:26.650 --> 29:38.179
 And just like a miracle was needed in the late summer and early fall of 1777, I want to tell my fellow Americans, if you believe that this story should make it to the silver screen, we need a miracle.
 29:38.199 --> 29:47.246
 And that miracle in 1777 was our fellow man, our fellow man and woman rose to the occasion and helped reinforce the American army.
 29:47.266 --> 29:48.247
 And I need your help.
 29:48.287 --> 29:49.268
 We need an army that
 29:50.028 --> 29:53.649
 of supporters to will this film into existence.
 29:54.290 --> 30:02.072
 And really, if people know donation is too small, we're crowdfunding the project at this point on Give, Send, Go.
 30:02.512 --> 30:05.694
 So even as denominations as small as $10 would be welcome.
 30:06.134 --> 30:06.934
 And here's the pledge.
 30:07.034 --> 30:14.717
 I'm an attorney admitted to the bar, the state of New York, also federally, and we have some of the nation's best military historians involved.
 30:15.777 --> 30:43.917
 we're radically transparent so you're the money that will be donated will be used effectively honestly and transparently but the main thing is we're also calling the likes of gary sinise and tom hanks kelsey grammar if you're listening we want you to play benjamin franklin but also a good native new yorker denzel washington who's a great he's been great to the our servicemen and women over the years we'd love to have him involved so
 30:44.617 --> 31:11.438
 uh the main thing is but to your point we also don't want this to be an amateurish production we want this to be truly first rate with an a-list director and a-list talent and so that's expensive if we're honest and and we give as americans so much to political campaigns and here we are in the presidential year and maybe too much and something like this endeavor needs to be front and center so i would ask and so there are there's one opportunity to donate
 31:12.078 --> 31:13.099
 via crowdfunding.
 31:13.619 --> 31:17.361
 But if there are potential investors, we can work.
 31:17.421 --> 31:18.662
 We have a legal team.
 31:18.742 --> 31:25.846
 And so if you are an individual of high net worth and you can write a check or so to make this possible, please contact us.
 31:26.707 --> 31:28.308
 We'd be very grateful to hear from you.
 31:30.109 --> 31:30.509
 Thanks, Mark.
 31:31.109 --> 31:32.510
 And it's also very important to you.
 31:32.550 --> 31:35.372
 I know, Mark, that this be a veteran-led production.
 31:35.412 --> 31:36.232
 I mean, you're a veteran.
 31:36.252 --> 31:37.973
 You have other veterans working with us.
 31:38.013 --> 31:39.294
 So in many ways, this is a
 31:40.269 --> 31:48.635
 veterans, not veterans of the film industry, you're calling on them to be the professionals, but really is our veterans working on this?
 31:49.756 --> 31:51.017
 Well, Bob, a short answer there.
 31:51.057 --> 31:53.719
 And it was a privilege of a lifetime for me to serve.
 31:53.739 --> 31:59.663
 And I only served just over four years on active duty in the 1990s and then in the reserves.
 32:00.544 --> 32:02.746
 But I think it's important because
 32:04.221 --> 32:13.967
 I can solemnly assure your listeners that there will be a fidelity to the history, that we're not taking license to make things more compelling.
 32:13.987 --> 32:14.548
 You don't need to.
 32:14.608 --> 32:16.669
 It's such an amazing story on so many levels.
 32:17.350 --> 32:28.397
 And so we wanted, and again, we commend, you know, the film, The Patriot was very entertaining and there are, it was well done in many respects, but it is fictionalized and that's okay.
 32:28.437 --> 32:31.579
 That's because that's a license can be taken like that in the feature film.
 32:32.159 --> 32:34.943
 But it is important to note, this is not going to be a documentary.
 32:35.764 --> 32:39.729
 The series that PBS did in the 1990s, Liberty, is very well done.
 32:39.749 --> 32:45.156
 And I believe Ken Burns is working on another multi-part series on the American Revolution.
 32:45.517 --> 32:47.700
 We didn't want to be in that genre.
 32:47.860 --> 32:48.341
 We wanted...
 32:49.185 --> 32:50.366
 Motion picture masterpiece.
 32:50.426 --> 33:14.464
 And the other part I should quickly add, if we're successful, just like there was Saving Private Ryan and then Band of Brothers, we are prepared to do a multi-episode or a multi-season series because the constraints of a feature film are such that it's so difficult within about two and a half hours just to cover the fall of Fort Ticonderoga, the stunning victory of Bennington,
 33:15.044 --> 33:16.345
 and then the victory at Saratoga.
 33:16.365 --> 33:23.028
 But the entirety of what happened in 1777, we would really like to cover in a multi-episode series.
 33:23.889 --> 33:30.652
 And we have, again, the same dream team of historians available to tackle that task.
 33:30.672 --> 33:31.212
 33:31.832 --> 33:37.495
 And then onto Kings Mountain and Cowpens and ultimately Yorktown.
 33:37.595 --> 33:38.436
 It really is.
 33:39.096 --> 33:42.018
 But starting somewhere with Saratoga is a wonderful idea.
 33:43.804 --> 33:50.049
 I wonder, you mentioned earlier that this is the first national Thanksgiving as a result of Saratoga.
 33:50.069 --> 33:51.610
 I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about this.
 33:51.650 --> 33:54.653
 I don't want you to give away anything so people won't buy tickets.
 33:55.734 --> 33:56.074
 Thank you.
 33:56.394 --> 33:58.196
 Well, Bob, and a short answer too.
 33:59.276 --> 34:03.520
 Obviously, the first Thanksgiving was in Massachusetts with the pilgrims.
 34:04.320 --> 34:09.384
 But there were individual days of Thanksgiving in individual colonies or states.
 34:10.646 --> 34:12.148
 And there's no argument here.
 34:12.188 --> 34:16.093
 This is recognized by all academicians and the like.
 34:16.634 --> 34:21.000
 The first national American Thanksgiving occurred on December 18th, 1777.
 34:21.040 --> 34:22.002
 And Samuel Adams helped write the...
 34:27.206 --> 34:30.469
 The motion that was passed by the Continental Congress, and he had help with that.
 34:31.190 --> 34:33.192
 And I believe it was unanimous.
 34:33.392 --> 34:40.239
 And once that was passed, George Washington, as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, issued general orders.
 34:40.939 --> 34:52.090
 And all of the American states on a single day with the American armed forces had a solemn day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God for the
 34:52.586 --> 34:56.108
 as Washington called it, the providential victory at Saratoga.
 34:56.128 --> 34:59.790
 And he also called the revolution the glorious work that we have in hand.
 34:59.810 --> 35:10.955
 A letter recently, a battlefield letter of his emerged recently, and it was written by him a day or two after he learned the news of the victory at Saratoga.
 35:11.076 --> 35:20.440
 So that alone, and I think my understanding is there were another six such days observed after that, but Saratoga was the first where...
 35:21.781 --> 35:36.969
 And what's important, that observance was done before the Americans learned, before word traveled back from France, that France had recognized America as a sovereign nation and was going to have the treaties with us.
 35:37.029 --> 35:45.614
 So we did this even, that's how important psychologically and for the morale and for everything, Saratoga was a game changer.
 35:46.357 --> 35:54.521
 It really isn't just, I know that Washington at that moment, they had given up Philadelphia and he is retreating to Valley Forge.
 35:54.541 --> 36:00.004
 They're still holding these forts on the, some of the forts on the lower Delaware, but the British are one by one taking them.
 36:00.504 --> 36:07.188
 And the general Howe doesn't know how come the Americans are firing off volleys of celebration.
 36:07.568 --> 36:11.530
 And it's because they've gotten the news of Saratoga, which Howe hadn't yet gotten.
 36:12.025 --> 36:13.065
 which is quite remarkable.
 36:13.125 --> 36:33.329
 And I don't know who the Americans were back then, and maybe someone does, but whoever was on those fast horses, those riders, they did a great service because the distance they covered from Saratoga down to where Washington was encamped outside of Philadelphia, it was just astonishing that he was able to get the news that quickly.
 36:34.050 --> 36:40.111
 And it was important because Washington and his main army had just suffered a series of terrible losses
 36:41.312 --> 36:42.794
 The Battle of Brandywine.
 36:42.814 --> 36:45.618
 I think there were massacres there.
 36:45.638 --> 36:48.182
 The Paoli Massacre in Germantown.
 36:48.762 --> 36:53.409
 So it can't be overstated how important this news was.
 36:53.429 --> 36:55.892
 It really is quite remarkable.
 36:56.533 --> 36:56.894
 It really is.
 36:57.182 --> 37:02.948
 We've been talking with Mark O'Rourke, who is the producer of 1777, The Turning Point.
 37:02.988 --> 37:17.263
 If you want to help out with this, is the website where you can find out more about Saratoga, The Turning Point, the film that Mark is overseeing, which will tell the story of Saratoga in vivid detail.
 37:17.303 --> 37:19.105
 So thank you so much for joining us, Mark.
 37:20.146 --> 37:20.687
 Absolutely, Bob.
 37:20.727 --> 37:23.991
 This is a great, wonderful discussion and an honor to be on.
 37:24.031 --> 37:30.400
 And again, I just, for your listeners, Saratoga is such a remarkable story for what we've mentioned.
 37:30.740 --> 37:36.308
 So many of the leaders, both in the Continental Regular Army, the American Army, and in the militia.
 37:36.946 --> 37:44.990
 that were at Saratoga were from New England and the preponderance from Massachusetts, including African-Americans and including Native Americans, the Stockbridge.
 37:45.050 --> 37:48.351
 So it's a vitally important story for New England.
 37:48.391 --> 37:52.093
 And, you know, it's argued what Burgoyne's ultimate goals were.
 37:52.633 --> 38:02.558
 But clearly, if he's able to control the Champlain and Hudson corridors, it does to a large extent isolate New England, which had been the hotbed of the revolution.
 38:02.958 --> 38:05.980
 You know, there's some new scholarship that perhaps Burgoyne's
 38:06.940 --> 38:17.863
 objectives as approved by Lord Germain were a bit more limited, but I think that for a long time, uh, it really, they were looking to control the center of gravity was the state of New York.
 38:17.903 --> 38:23.284
 And if they could isolate New England from New York and the rest, it would hasten the end of the revolution.
 38:23.824 --> 38:24.044
 38:24.584 --> 38:26.585
 And it didn't happen as we'll find out in the film.
 38:26.685 --> 38:27.265
 So this is great.
 38:27.625 --> 38:31.566
 Then I want to thank Jonathan Lane, our producer, as well as our listeners, both, uh,
 38:32.166 --> 38:33.867
 around the country and around the world.
 38:33.927 --> 38:37.928
 So every week I thank folks in different places who are tuning in.
 38:37.988 --> 38:48.731
 And this week, if you are interested in some of our Revolution 250 swag or just getting connecting with Revolution 250, send Jonathan Lane an email, jlane at
 38:50.635 --> 39:01.419
 Friends in Philadelphia and in New York City, and that includes Brooklyn and Queens, as well as in Saratoga and also in Pennsylvania, Allison Park, Pennsylvania.
 39:01.439 --> 39:03.079
 I'm glad that there is an Allison Park.
 39:03.479 --> 39:08.181
 Florida, New Smyrna Beach in Los Angeles and Gastonia, North Carolina.
 39:08.221 --> 39:12.142
 Thank you all for listening in those places and places beyond in between.
 39:12.182 --> 39:14.803
 And now we will be piped out on the road to Boston.