Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day...

I love the stories of the revolution and to read about the amazing strength and fortitude of the men and women who founded this great nation. I hope you won't mind if I share a favorite of these stories.

During the early spring of 1783 General Washington's officer corp had become angry to the point of violence. Those soldiers who had served in the major campaigns of the war, who had been true and faithful, had not been paid for a great while. There was serious talk that the very same soldiers who had fought so valiantly for their country, now angered because of their grievances against the congress, were mutinous and threatening to overthrow the government they had suffered and bled to establish. Any reasoned man could understand their feeling. They had risked all and suffered much and then were forced to have their hands out like beggars.

Washington wrote to congress many times on their behalf without satisfaction. When, the situation became critical, Washington came to address his men who were angry and hostile. He gave his word that he would continue to advocate for them. He told them with great feeling of his gratitude for their service. They were unmoved.

Then, he said, "You will (thereby) give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings. And you will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind: 'Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.'"

The soldiers still were hostile.
(The following is taken from Benson Bobrick's book Angel in the Whirlwind.. pg. 475)

"Then, remembering that he had brought a letter with him from a sympathetic congressman, Washington took it out to read it, paused for a moment as though he were having difficulty making out the words, reached into his pocket again, and took out a pair of eyeglasses. Apologizing for the delay, he remarked quietly, 'I have already grown gray in the service of my country. I am now going blind.'
That completely personal, seemingly offhand remark-- 'so natural, so unaffected... as rendered it superior to the most studied oratory,' wrote one major-- recalled his audience to themselves. 'It forced its way into the heart, and you might see sensibility moisten every eye.' When he had finished, the officers thanked him, asked him to intercede on their behalf, and quietly left the hall'"

We live in a country made by men & women like Washington... true leaders. They inspired a generation to rise above and become their best selves. Entitlement was not allowed, selfishness could not survive such examples of valiance and sacrifice. They created a great nation built on the concept of Liberty. They have willed these freedoms to us. Have we forgotten them? Do we know their stories? Do we understand well the concepts the generations before us and even some in our own generation have fought to preserve. What is it worth? For so many it has been worth their blood and their lives. Freedom truly is not free. I ask, is it worth some little of your time, your study and your contemplation.. every day, but especially on days like today? Happy Independence Day!

1 comment:

Alicia said...

"...and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM were not highly rated." Thomas Paine. Love the post, Tif!