I am reminded of the nineteen sixties TV series called "Branded" which I watched every week when I was around eight years old. This was a great program and I loved it.
The star character is Chuck Connors. He plays an army officer named Jason McCord, a West Point graduate and decorated army officer, who has always been a good and honest soldier. He is the only known survivor of the Battle of Bitter Creek. However, despite his courage and perseverance in that battle, for some reason he is dishonorably discharged for cowardice. Rather than reveal the killed army commander who was really responsible for the massacre, thereby bringing the deceased man in disrepute, McCord remains and accepts complete blame on himself.
I never really understood this part of the series, but nonetheless accepted it in faith. Why didn't he just tell the truth, thereby saving his skin and remaining in the army that he loved the most? Without this twist the series would have reverted to a meaningless adventure, even if this thin gossamer of illogical truth barely held the series together in the first place. No ten year-old in his right mind would let go of such a great series for such a lame reason as this. I was infatuated with the idea of being an underdog and rooted for McCord every week.
The saga continues. The poor man who has been unfairly treated has no home, and he has nowhere to turn. McCord has no choice except to travel westward. Putting his army training to use and doing engineer work for hire, he is always trying to prove through his actions that he didn't deserve the brand of "coward."
At the start of each thirty-minute episode, the same classic scene is played:
McCord's commanding officer rips off his army decorations and breaks his saber in half, chucking the bottom half of it right out of the fort's gates. McCord leaves the fort's walls, picks up the broken half-saber, and heads out..."As far as I am concerned, this is one of the classic premises, even if now it would appear pretty corny and unrealistic. At the time, and in the ten year old's mind, it was unsettling and fantastic at the same time.
Now even more than thirty-five years later, I can really relate to this episode. Considering my situation, you could say that I am also a kind of McCord and it is time to travel westward in a symbolic kind of way. My army decorations have been torn off my shoulders and my broken half-saber is held tightly in my right hand.
All but one died, There at Bitter Creek, And they say he ran away ...
Marked with a coward's shame.
What do you do when you're branded,
Will you fight for your name?
He was innocent,
Not a charge was true,
But the world will never know...
Scorned as the one who ran.
What do you do when you're branded
And you know you're a man?
And wherever you go
for the rest of your life
You must prove...
You're a man.
Time to be the underdog again. This should be fun, I hope. Maybe someday they will dedicate a television series to me and my cause.