He was only 21 and had been teaching school for two years when the war began. And now he was involved in the Long Island campaign which was just this side of disastrous. We were facing the enemy across the East River not knowing what their plans might be. Fearing surprised more than anything General Washington wanted someone to sneak over the lines to get information. Spying is a dirty job no one wanted. So Nate volunteered. He was sent through the enemy lines dressed as a Dutch school master. He got what he went after and was on his way back when the British found the information on him. He admitted he was a spy and they hanged him the next morning. He wrote some letters home, but the British destroyed them. In his last moment, they let him say what he wanted to. He was just a young American who had no time to do anything memorable but die. So, he stood there, with the noose around his neck and told them his rank, captain, and his name, Nathan Hale. And then added, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
ideas that challenge / comfort / inspire
In 1621, famous pilgrim William Bradford proclaimed a day of feasting to commemorate the first harvest after a long year of suffering. That became America's first Thanksgiving Day. But as the colonies grew prosperous, the people forgot all about Thanksgiving and the meaning it held for their ancestors. The holiday was revived for a time under George Washington, but general interested in it dropped steadily. Finally, it was observed in only a few communities and that was sporadic because there was no set date.
Then, a determined woman named Sara Hale appeared on the scene. She was a young widow from New Hampshire. In 1822, she found herself with five children to support. She turned to literature and became the editor of a woman's magazine. Like most editors, Sarah was a crusader. It was her belief that the government should make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She pounded away at her idea for years. Three presidents turned her down. But the fourth finally agreed with her. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of every November as our national day of Thanksgiving.
Now, you probably never knew that Sarah Hale did that for you. Her fame rests more on the ditty she wrote in 1830. We’ll never forget her for that simple poem that begins, “Mary had a little lamb…”
On July 4th, 1776, King George III writes in his diary, "Nothing important happened today."
George was 14. Adventurous, boisterous, independent and a little bit rebellious. You know, 14. He was a British subject and proud of it. And why not? His family had been loyal to the English throne for more than 600 years. It was during the summer of his 14th year that a British man-o-war anchored in the Potomac river, near his home. The sight of that giant war vessel with the billowing union jack flying in the breeze stirred the adventurous young heart of patriotic George. He decided to join up in the British Navy and fight for England. It didn’t take long for him to get ready to go. George slipped out of the house after his parents were asleep. He had his sea chest on board and his was ready to sail in the early morning. He could hardly wait. Then, George’s distraught mother, a very aggressive woman, tracked him to the ship, hurried on board, and grabbed him by the collar. She ordered him to secure his sea chest and get back home where he belonged. George did. And that’s only a trifle, but it changed the history books. You see, if George had sailed on that ship, he might have become a British admiral, blocking shipping from the American Revolution. Instead, he stayed home and became the father of his country.
His writing talents were never in doubt. Certainly not after he authored a well-written pamphlet called A Summary View of the Rights of British America. However, the tall red-headed, Virginian was so quiet during debates that some questioned his strength. The real power of that critically important Congress of 1776 was John Adams of Massachusetts. His bull-necked honesty and enthusiastic zeal made him a power center in that legislative body. It was natural that Adams be a principal choice to prepare the key policy paper on the future of the 13 colonies. Three others joined him to form a committee: Ben Franklin, a Connecticut merchant and a New York lawyer. Another man was added to give place to the importance of Virginia. When the committee met to do its work, it was naturally expected that John Adams would be the primary architect of the writing. But Adam suggested instead that the quiet Virginian draw up the first draft for the committee’s consideration. “I’m too obnoxious,” he said. So, almost by accident, the new man had the job. “I turned to neither book nor pamphlet while writing,” he said. He first draft was received without change by the committee and approve later by the entire Congress. Written almost by chance but just the right man, Thomas Jefferson. The document - the Declaration of Independence.
I love America, where truth can be shouted from the housetops instead of whispered in dismal cellars, hidden from spies and dictators.
I love America, where families can sleep peacefully, without fear of secret seizure or purges of blood for political reasons.
I love America, where men are truly free men, not living in fear of slavery, exile or involuntary servitude while loved ones are turn from their doors.
I love America, where people are not forced to hate, persecute, or kill because of religion, race, or creed.
I love America, where little children are not forced to suffer for want of bread, withheld at the whim of some despot carrying out a plan for greater glory.
I love America, where men can think as they please, and where thought is not regulated by decree, or enforced by bullets.
I love America, where there is laughter, hope and opportunity.
I love America, despite her present troubles because free men can cure them.
I love America, and I will gladly give my life to preserve the freedom our forefathers created so that our children and their children can forever enjoy blessings we have inherited.
Franklin E. Jordan