Strength and Courage
INTRODUCTION: In his book, AMERICAN CEASER, William Manchester tells of a time during WWI when Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur and Major George Patton were standing together in the heat of battle at Saint-Mihiel, France. They were under fire, but neither took cover. Standing erect each tried to match the other's bravado. Finally, one shell went whistling past so close that Patton flinched. At that point MacArthur said with the slightest trace of a smile: 'Don't worry Major, you never hear the one that gets you.'
We often think of military heroes as examples of strength and courage, for obvious reasons. The Winter of 1776 may have been the gloomiest hour for the American revolutionary cause. The patriot forces seemed unable to win a battle. George Washington's army had been routed out of New York, driven across New Jersey, and lay shivering on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. More and more men deserted every day. Racked by hunger, cold and disease, those who remained simply waited in misery for their enlistments to expire so they could go home. Washington himself confided in a letter to a relative: 'I think the game is pretty near up.' Amid this crises of morale, Thomas Paine, implored the colonists not to give up the fight in a little pamphlet entitled 'The Crises.' Here is an excerpt:
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crises, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of men and women. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated ...
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