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Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” When we pledge allegiance to our country, what does that mean to us? Do we take our freedom for granted? Many countries have no rights and are not at liberty to say what they feel or to worship as they please. In some countries, Christianity cannot be preached among the people. Newspapers, media, and even the Internet are all government controlled.

Do we think of the freedom we possess? Have you ever thought about the patriots who fought for this liberty that we enjoy? These brave men desired to live in a free land, not ruled by a monarchy. They wanted to choose for themselves and worship according to the dictates of their own heart.

When Thomas Jefferson sat down and wrote the Declaration of Independence, it inspired every patriot to fight for his liberty. As General George Washington stood before the Continental Army with the document in his hand, he took a look at the weary men before him in their tattered clothes, many barefoot, and he realized they had not eaten a decent meal for months. These underfed men were a sight! Washington knew these men needed to be inspired and this document would do the trick.

Washington took a deep breath and then read in a clear voice, “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As these patriots listened to every word, they were buoyed up, inspired, ready to fight for their freedom against the tyranny placed upon them. The fire inside them grew and no one could stop the need they felt for liberty. The Declaration of Independence was inspired of God.

Nathan Hale felt it burning in his breast. He was a 23-year-old artist and schoolteacher who was caught with sketches of British gun emplacements that he was supposed to turn over to George Washington. The penalty for being a spy was to be hanged. As he marched up the steps of the gallows, he held his head high. When he turned to face the enemy, he declared boldly, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

When Thomas Paine saw the sad condition of the Continental Army, he wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls…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: ‘Tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”

The Continental Army consisted of farmers and merchants, not learned in the way of combat. The crossing of the Delaware in a blizzard will never be forgotten. Many were sick and poorly clothed, and their feet were wrapped with cloth to protect them from freezing weather. They lacked enough food for everyone and many times went hungry. The Continental Army was outnumbered, but George Washington was inspired to take his army across the Delaware, knowing the enemy would be drunk and weary from the Christmas festivities. It was a never-forgotten battle of victory that stunned the British, a surprise attack, and not one patriot was killed in that battle.

The patriots knew the value of freedom and were willing to pay the price. The British looked down their noses at them as untrained and uneducated rabble. When they found the Continental Army to be so strong and stubborn, they moved a part of their forces to the south with the idea of moving northward, capturing one state at a time. When Washington realized their plan, he sent another army of men to stop them.

In August of 1780 in South Carolina, a great and terrible battle took place. When all seemed lost, General de Kalb and his men continued to valiantly fight for their country. He believed in the cause of liberty so much that he refused to give up. He received eleven wounds, both musket ball and bayonet, before he collapsed and fell to the ground. British General Cornwallis had been watching from a distance and when he saw the courageous general finally fall to the ground, he sent his aides to retrieve him with a stretcher. Three days later he died in the name of freedom. General Jean de Kalb was the most courageous and valiant man Cornwallis had ever seen in the face of battle, fighting until he dropped, not giving up his cause for liberty, and for this, he paid him the highest military honor at his burial.

The army that Washington had sent was not familiar with the south. But Colonial Francis Marion knew how to deal with the enemy in his own homeland. He was known as the Swamp Fox and had the deadliest fighting command in the whole revolution. Colonial Marion had trained his men to disappear into the thick forest and swamps of South Carolina without a sound, strike from ambush, and quickly move through the woods like silent shadows. They were able to cripple the British army and torment them, and then fade into the forest and undergrowth. These men were fighting for their homes, their liberty, their families, and their rights, which had been threatened by the British and the fearsome Hessians since they arrived. These German mercenaries were skilled fighters, paid by the British to cut down the patriots.

After eight long years, the patriots beat the greatest military power in the land. Have we ever thought about the tremendous price these men paid for our freedom? The next time we look at our flag, remember the cost as you pledge your allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and remember that we are “one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” That’s what helps us stand out as a great nation. Without God’s help, we would never have won the war alone.

Alexis de Toqueville, a French Statesman, visited our country in the early 1800s. He said that he looked for the “greatness of America.” It was not until he witnessed the great faith of the American people in their churches that he found the true greatness here. He said, "America is great because she is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

Copyright 2006 – Reproduction of this article may only be used with the author’s Bio intact.

Submitted by:

Linda Weaver Clarke

Linda Weaver Clarke has written a historical fiction love story, Melinda and the Wild West, published by American Book Publishing. If you would like to know more about Linda, her web site is http://www.lindaweaverclarke.com.




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