U.S. heroes vs. Gov't

As victorious young World War II veterans returned home to the Tennessee town of Athens, they were all fired up about democracy and freedom in Europe.

But in their hometown, shamelessly corrupt sleazebags ran the local "political machine." Elections were charades. And when the election of August 1946 was stolen -- as per usual -- the tough veterans launched a mini-American Revolution and won.

It's an inspiring story for democracy-loving Americans of today, who seem to be watching with impotent shock as one election after another is nakedly stolen and emboldened political criminals commit their hideous sins in broad daylight, even on live television.

What the WWII boys did was simple: After yet another stolen election, the veterans raided the local armories and attacked the camp of the political crooks, who were holed up in the town jail where they could safely stuff the ballot boxes with bogus votes.

Unlike today's do-nothing consumers, the Americans of the "Greatest Generation" were no sissies. The soldiers tipped over cars in the streets and fired on the jail from the safety of the makeshift foxholes.

The town rallied to the cause of the brave veterans, with housewives even delivering refreshments during what was later known as the Battle of Athens. As regular Americans happily realized they could rise up and take out the political trash, the little revolution took place in a "party-type atmosphere," local historian Joe Guy says today.

The siege went on all through the night of August 1, and in the early hours of August 2 the veterans were tired of waiting for the political scoundrels to give themselves up. So the soldiers blasted the jail with dynamite.

The scumbags surrendered and the veterans approved the real vote results: a straight ticket of G.I. nonpartisan anti-corruption true American heroes.

And it all took place 60 years ago this week, the Associated Press notes in a feature celebrating the anniversary.

The Battle of Athens wasn't the only heroic insurgency of the post-WWII years, but it was certainly the most exciting example.

"Seasoned veterans of the European and Pacific theaters returned in 1945 and 1946 to Southern communities riddled with vice, economic stagnation and deteriorating schools," historian Jennifer E. Brooks wrote in the Tennessee Encyclopedia.

"Across the South, veterans launched insurgent campaigns to oust local political machines they regarded as impediments to economic progress. The McMinn County veterans had won the day in a hail of gunfire, dynamite, and esprit de corps."

Founding father Thomas Jefferson would've been so proud of those Tennessee patriots. Jefferson knew from the start that the only way to keep a political system clean was to keep it small and regularly purge it of corruption.

A significant rebellion against the young U.S. federal government was the famous Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Alexander Hamilton, the power-crazed and money-hungry secretary of the Treasury, had arbitrarily decided the nation's many whiskey distillers would be a good source of government income.

The whiskey men thought otherwise and launched their rebellion. In the first important example of the United States drifting from its democratic principles to the all-powerful police state of today, Hamilton was able to force the president, revolutionary hero George Washington, to wage war against those liberty-loving American citizens.

Jefferson was heartbroken.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants," he wrote in defense of regular revolution. "It is its natural manure."

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