THE QUEST FOR FREEDOM CREATES UNSUNG HEROES
Posted by 1182cws on June 26, 2007
American history includes volumes of stories of individual people who in their own modest yet determined way contributed significantly to the founding of our nation. They demonstrated strength of character, resolve in times of stress, and dignity. There are many such stories.
A close examination of our nation’s past reveals that on many occasions, the courageous, level-headed sacrificial actions and wise decision-making of individual people played a significant role in the origins of a free nation.
America was founded by average people who yearned for religious freedom and despised taxation without representation. These hearty souls braved the unpredictable nature of colonial life, replete with difficulties created by tumultuous weather, hostile natives, and a small supply of food.
There was no 24 hour media, no internet, no e-mails or blogs. People made their mark and created their legacy largely in a vacuum, noticed only by the immediate people that they encountered. And so the motivation for actions and attitudes was usually based on the traits that shaped a person’s character.
As it became increasingly clear that an armed confrontation was on the horizon with the mother land of England, a clarion call was made for all men – stout of limb, swift of foot, and hearty in spirit – to organize themselves into local militias – minutemen, as many of them came to be known. The National Guard traces its origin to the minuteman concept. (As a member of the National Guard, I plan to devote a column to its history in the near future)
What a bold and aggressive action – to stand up to England! Our very existence as a nation and our quality of life as individual citizens are directly tied to the unselfish and altruistic actions of many unsung heroes that came before us.
These intrepid people emerged in the ensuing struggle for freedom during the Revolutionary War period. Hannah Till, a slave who cooked for General George Washington and his troops during the infamous winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, is one such hero. She cooked for the Continental Army for seven years. Later, she earned her freedom and moved to Philadelphia.
Seventeen year old Samuel Clark of Virginia was another unsung hero of the American Revolution. His story is an amazing example of courage and sacrifice. During the war, he was drafted twice and on three occasions he volunteered for service. He felt compelled to volunteer to replace other family members who had wives and children.
Clark fought in the ‘Battle of Green Spring’. He was wounded by a saber wielded by a British soldier. He also fought at the siege of Yorktown. Later, Clark served as an officer during the War of 1812.
At the Green Spring clash, Samuel Clark was one of two-hundred Virginia riflemen deployed in the area. Because the Americans had fewer cavalry than the opposition, the riflemen were strategically placed to counter probes by the infamous ‘British Legion’.
A third example of individual heroism was William Moultrie, the son of a Scots physician, who emerged as a military leader in South Carolina. He commanded a regiment of American men with several victories.
The most notable victory sent a wave of patriotic and courageous fervor throughout the south. It was the result of a decision by Moultrie to build a fort on Sullivan Island off South Carolina’s coast. It potentially could have become a staging area for enemy forces. The difficult struggle to build the fort was a significant accomplishment alone in such wild and unstable environs.
The fort was only half completed when a British fleet attacked. The battle was waged for twelve hours. Ultimately, the British retreated. Word of the American victory carried far and wide throughout the southeast: from every watering hole to livery stable; outhouse to back porch.
The outcome made people realize that an American Revolution triumph was very much a realistic possibility! And ultimately, it became a reality.
A brand new nation! The spirit of 1776 carried forward through the uncertainty of the early years. The creation of a government was at hand.