From June 1775 to December 1783, upon the recommendation of John Adams, George Washington served as commanding general of the Continental Army. The winter at Valley Forge (1777-78) is an example of the privation suffered by the soldiers who gave their lives for liberty. At this time, George Washington had part of Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis read to the American army:
“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 their country; but he that stands by 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. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”*
From 1775 to 1783, the eight-year War for Independence from authoritarian rule was waged. Its victory was a monumental achievement granted by the providence of God. The signers of the Declaration of Independence had pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Of the fifty-six signers, five were captured by the British as traitors and tortured; twelve had their homes ransacked and burned; two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; and another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships in the Revolutionary War. In spite of the suffering, not one of the Founding Fathers ever reneged on his commitment to independence.
In 1776, when Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, she said “Posterity who to reap the blessings, will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors.” We are the posterity who enjoy the blessings for which our ancestors sacrificed, and we honor their faith, their loyalty, their devotion and their heroic endeavors.
*Pensacola Christian College, United States History in Christian Perspective: Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed. (Pensacola, FL: A Beka Book, 1996), 112.
~ D. Norris