Sunday, April 6, 2008

Gordon Kahl - Patriot or Outlaw?

It seems to me that I first heard about Gordon Kahl in the mid 1980's on a local radio station. Further down the road the movie In The Line of Duty: Manhunt In The Dakotas (1991) was made and Rod Steiger played the role of Gordon Kahl.

For my taste I thought that Rod Steiger did an excellent acting job. Later in the early 21st century I had the pleasure of hearing some interviews with Joan Kahl, the wife of Gordon Kahl, on the American Freedom Network radio station out of Johnstown, CO. It was her impression that the movie did not do justice to Gordon.

Later in life I was able to visit Gordon's Grave near Heaton, North Dakota. I had never visited North Dakota before and found it to actually be a wonderful state with many things to see of importance and beauty.

After stopping in Medina and traveling north from Medina I believe this view may be the place and the view just before Gordon and his family were ambushed in February of 1983.

From an alleged typed note by Gordon Kahl written that very day.
As we came over one of the hills just north of Medina, I saw on the top of the next hill what looked like two cars parked on it. About this time they turned on their red lights, and I knew the attack was under way.
Later, in June of 1983 Gordon was killed in a shootout with federal authorities in Lawrence County, AR. A local sheriff by the name of Gene Matthews was also killed, some say by a bullet into his back.

The cemetery where Gordon rests has two markers. One of the markers represents both Gordon and his wife Joan, at the bottom of this stone reads "He Loved His Country".

The other stone is a military marker representing his service in WWII.

A few links to read further about Gordon are at the end of this blog as I cannot do better than what those pages have to say.

What I can say is that Gordon was a tax protester and had deep concerns about the direction of where the government was taking us. He had concerns about the individual farmers and small towns that were disappearing before his eyes.

What I can tell you about Heaton, North Dakota that I visited in the summer of 2004 was that it is a virtual ghost town with no apparent prosperity of any individual farmer or store evident.

There are also the infamous tax protesters of The Boston Tea Party and most of us know the phrase Taxation Without Representation.

So, was Gordon a patriot or outlaw? Certainly he was an example that was made to be either a Patriot or Outlaw.

His resting place represents history now much in the same fashion of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Doc Holiday, William Bent, maybe even the James Gang Brothers and Billy The Kid.

Gordon was not advocating for the rich or for the companies - just for people he had empathy for.

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