There was a time when we faced overwhelming odds, as we do now. Our Founding Fathers faced it in the Revolutionary War, the “it” being the crushing might of the British Empire, then the foremost military power in the world. Back then, Christmas was not celebrated as much as it is now: our forbearers were Puritans, and in their eyes Christmas mirrored the Bacchanalian feasts and Saturnalia of the Ancient Romans too much. It is believed that German immigrants to Pennsylvania introduced the Christmas tree, a staunch German tradition centuries old at that time.
“We have it in our power to begin the world anew…America shall make a stand, not for herself alone, but for the world.”
Thomas Paine, in “Common Sense,” January 9, 1776
They stood on the edge of an abyss, these men, and the great experiment of a Republic based on principles of freedom and the vote of the people was so delicate as to be almost a gossamer cobweb in the morning grass. The slightest wind could shatter it and the dream would be gone forever.
On the 6th of December, 1776, the naval base of Newport, RI was captured by the British, and 5 days later, General George Washington went across the Delaware River with his men into PA. The Continental Congress had to retreat from the city of Philadelphia and relocate to Baltimore, MD. Thomas Paine also wrote of these happenings, as he was serving under General Washington in the Continental Army. Paine wrote these immortal words:
“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 his country: but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Great words, and completely true that we can hold with us today.
Christmas Day, December 25, 1776, and George Washington re-crosses the Delaware River and attacks the Hessians (German mercenaries from the city of Hesse). Those Hessians numbered about 1,600 men, and the Americans captured 1,000 of them. This started to turn the tide for the future United States…and Washington and his troops suffered the privations of hunger, severe cold, lack of provisions and supplies, and numerical inferiority.
But Washington triumphed, on Christmas Day, 1776, so many years ago. We can cling to such a spirit and use it to bolster our own resolve: to remember our heritage as Americans, our traditions of family and Christmas, and the spirit of brotherhood and goodness that in the end, with God’s blessing, will carry us through. I wanted you to reflect upon all of this, and wish all of our Readers and their families a Merry Christmas and joy in all of their undertakings. May God bless and protect all of you and keep you though these times. I close with a picture that is worth a thousand words and part of all of us, as Americans, and wish you all of my best. JJ out!