Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

1.26.2010

They Didn't Know They Were Patriots


Imagine for a moment that, in the heat of hearing a moving speech, you signed on to serve in the US Army. Whether or not you actually believe the war is right or just, you certainly aren’t passionate or devoted to the cause. In fact, you are in the ranks because you desired adventure and good pay just as much as you possess patriotism, bravery, and compassion. Soon, however, things take a turn that tests your mettle. The army goes bankrupt and, without the ability to hire reinforcements, is soon outnumbered and in a dangerous predicament. Moreover, you have not been paid in months, and your enlistment time is nearly up. Your general spends hours preaching and begging and imploring you to find your patriotism and stay on. How can you, though? Your wife and children are home starving because you have not seen a paycheck in ages. Your new baby is going to be born any day now. You yourself are gaunt, weak, and shabbily clothed, with some of your friends even going without shoes. Epidemics are raging through the camp, so that if the enemy doesn’t get you, you are sure that the sickness will! And remember how this was a cause you were apathetic about? It sounded good at the time, but is it really worth such sacrifice and hardship? Is it worth death?

And so, with half the army’s enlistments up, the soldiers decide the cause is not worth such sacrifice and walk away unapologetically, despite the fact that the enemy looms only two hours away. You, however, must wait another month for your term to expire. One of your friends makes his decision and writes home to his fiancé to say of the general, “I cannot desert a man (and it would certainly be desertion in a court of honor) who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that a large part of it wants spirit to defend itself.[1]” And yet you are still not sure if you are with your leader, or with the large part that wants spirit to defend itself.

And then comes the battle—the horrible, awful battle—in which several of your friends freeze to death while marching alongside you in the bitter cold. Like flowing water that is not supposed to freeze, their blood moved slower and slower until it moved no more. You win—the first win in months! But at what cost? Who really believes the illusion that this war can be won?

Now you stand at attention with your fellow soldiers. The rest of the army’s enlistments are up tomorrow—and everyone’s jaw is set. You listen graciously to the emotional appeal. But when the drums roll and the general asks for volunteers to step forward, not a single person twitches. Everyone is firm in their determination to end this misery. If that means surrender, then so be it!

The general, looking suddenly tired and gray, speaks over the ominous drumroll and the indomitable men. “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance.[2]

And then, furious at yourself for being so weak, you finally step forward with thousands of other unsure men. You have never recited the pledge of allegiance—you have never sung the Star-Spangled Banner—you have never memorized the 50 states—you have never marched on the Capitol Mall in protest—the Declaration of Independence scared you stiff—and you would mock the man who called you what we fondly term a “patriot.” Yet the balance of a nation rests on your shoulders.

So make up your mind! Yes, “These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country…” Yes, “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.[3]

Someday, you will look back and recognize that, “The war was a longer, far more arduous, and more painful struggle than later generations would understand or sufficiently appreciate….Especially for those who had been with Washington and who knew what a close call it was at the beginning—how often circumstance, storms, contrary winds, the oddities or strengths of individual character had made the difference—the outcome seemed little short of a miracle.[4]” Providence guided you soldiers that day to step forward; Providence guided your leader, General George Washington; and Providence preserved the thirteen colonies. Providence used you.

They didn't know they were patriots...yet.

Are you a sunshine patriot or a monsoon survivor?



Inspired by 1776 by David McCullough, which tells the story of that first fateful year of the War for Independence in a masterful, suspenseful, and scholarly way. Put this book on your reading list! If you, like me, feel called to action after being reminded of our forefather’s selfless sacrifice, please read the “Alert” at the top of the sidebar on the right for just one of the pressing crises facing our nation today.

[1] William Tudor to Delia Jarvis, December 24, 1776, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Mass.

[2] George Washington, as recorded by Sergeant R----, “Battle of Princeton,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XX (1896), 515-516

[3] Thomas Paine, The Crisis, 1776

[4] David McCullough, 1776, "Chapter 7: Darkest Hour", page 294

3 comments:

  1. That was beautifully written, Mikaela. I think that we in America take for granted the wonderful liberties that our forefathers fought for. Several months ago I read a book called Private Yankee Doodle and it was the record of a Revolutionary soldier. I confess that I had no conception of the extreme hardships which the army faced in those days. It is easy for history to become just a textbook and to forget that these real men and women lived and died. I pray that God will awaken the church to the realization of the gift that He has given us in America and the freedoms that we are letting slip away without a fight.

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  2. Thank you Charae! I could agree with you more. I will have to look into that book!

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  3. Wisdom article ! thanks for sharing ^^

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