Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Reflections Upon Trenton
"And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you today;" Exodus 14:13
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from service to their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of both 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." Thomas Paine, the Crisis, December 1776.
"Victory or Death." George Washington, handwritten note, discovered by Dr. Benjamin Rush immediately before the Battle of Trenton.
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Trenton. I've been thinking about the Battle of Trenton a lot this Christmas season. One conclusion stands out: in a time of despair, with no guarantee of success, George Washington decided to go out swinging.
It wasn't easy. It was cold. The river was icy. They got a late start. Two other generals failed to provide reinforcements. They had to push heavy artillery uphill on muddy roads. The men didn't have shoes; their bloody feet literally dyed the snow red.
But George Washington, lacking our knowledge of the outcome, decided to go out swinging.
And it worked. George Washington secured an unexpected victory. Victory at Trenton and Princeton bought the Patriot army time.
What does this mean today?!?
For contemporary Patriots, the situation in December 2012 bears an eerie resemblance to December 1776. In both cases, the heady enthusiasm of July was followed by an unexpected setback and a December of despair. In both cases, the so-called 'Wizards of Smart' encouraged the insurgent Patriots to give up and resign themselves to tyranny. By deciding to go out swinging, George Washington created the conditions that enabled victory several years down the road. It won't be easy, and might have our own Valley Forge moment in the near future, but contemporary Patriots should do likewise.
Victory or Death.