Elite’s name has a lot of history…literally

Before there was a United States of America, there was a group of American patriots, American soldiers called the Elite. In the War of the American Revolution, the Elite were defined as that group of warriors whose disabling wounds “must keep them forever again from the field of battle.”

The Elite. The title conveys both respect and pity, and is given by peers who fought alongside the fallen.

As had been the tradition dating back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, immediately prior to the start of hostilities opposing commanders met to make arrangements to provide for those who would that day be deprived of their profession by being maimed in the line of duty. In those rare, traditional Revolutionary War skirmishes when the wounded lay on the field in the wake of an action, both sides worked together to care for the engagement’s disabled. Excluded from further fighting, these patriots were returned to society and were called the Elite for the status they’d earned on the battlefield.

The American tradition of the Elite was learned from the British, who had for generations been providing for their disabled warriors with special housing (Soldiers and Sailors homes in the UK date back to the 17th century), and specific employment for the Elites’ general welfare. Disabled sailors, for example, were to become the leading sail makers in Britain, while disabled soldiers became the prominent firearms providers to the Crown.

The American tradition carried on through the Civil War, in the aftermath of which President Lincoln, even in the face of crushing financial constraints, made specific arrangements to care for those wounded to the point of disability from both sides. Those provisions included systematic use of those men, “able to rejoin society but no longer fit for service,” in the reconstruction efforts.

The earliest foundations of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs spring from the traditions of the Elite, as established by the British nearly 1,000 years ago.

So, what’s with the name? The Elite is the traditional title given to those who have given much in the service to country. Unlike those brave and honorable Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines who have given all for their country, the Elite stand ready and able to give still more, and look to our elected and business leaders to give them the chance.