THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MENS SOULS
ARE YE A SUNSHINE PATRIOT?
Or A Winter Soldier?
Everybody knows the story of Washington's Crossing of the Delaware River; and his Christmas Eve attack on the Brit's drunken Hessian mercenaries, in their barracks at Trenton. Everybody knows that it was a cold, miserable winter; and that the citizen-soldiers of the Continental Army had bad equipment, little food, poor clothing, and shabby shelters. And yet, they persevered. Here we are today, because they did.
Many people today don't realize that we very nearly lost the Revolutionary War. On more than one occaision, the situation became worse than hopeless: The Battle of Brooklyn, after which we were driven out of New York. The frozen winter out-of-doors at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.The mutinies in New Jersey, when Washington's own personal integrity was the only thing that saved the fledgling nation from falling apart.
George Washington, farmer, stood up before his men in the midst of their mutiny. They had been extended far far beyond their original enlistments, poorly treated by Congress, starved and frozen and badly cut up by the British Army. They had not even been paid in a long time. They were mostly farmers, and skilled tradesmen, and small merchants. Their wives and children had been left home alone for years at a time. They had left their farms, their jobs, their businesses, and might find nothing when they got home; if they got home.
They made great sacrifices for this thing that did not yet even exist, except in their own minds: America. It was hard. Too hard. The war seemed endless, and unwinnable. It seemed there was no one they could trust, no one who would speak plainly and honestly to them. No one in whose hands they could continue to place "their lives, their property, and their sacred honour." They wanted to go home, and there was no one to stop them.
Except for General Washington. He told them he knew how hard it had been: He had always remained with the troops, in the field, when he might easily have stayed in comfort at some fine gentleman's estate. He had fought in the front lines, putting his own life on the line, right beside his troops. He had gone to Philadelphia and argued, pleaded, threatened and charmed the Continental Congress into coming up with money for arms, and food, and clothing, and shelter, and salaries for the men. He had come back to his men, and led them through defeats, and on to victory. He clearly saw that the fight was worth it, and that it would be won. By his strength of character, the army, and the nation, hung together, and fought on, and won.
Now we have another "Winter Soldier:" A man who came back wounded from the war in Vietnam, and fought to have the truth be known about it, to save the lives of many men. He worked hard, and played by the rules, and came to represent the people of the state of Massachusetts, birthplace of the Revolution, in the United States Senate. He fought for workers, and women, and children, and old people, and veterans, and soldiers, and minorities, and immigrants, and many good causes. Then he ran for President, a strong campaign, which he waged honestly, and honourably.
Now he is stuck in a sort of Valley Forge, with the cold winds of disappointment and disapproval bearing down on him. Can he win this election? Does he have that last ounce of courage, and character, that it will take? More importantly, does he have an army of citizen-soldiers behind him, ready to fight, and go on fighting until they win?
Now we know what this means:
"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; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
So, how's the weather where you are?
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