Abilene News

Published 2:19 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20 – “These are the times that try men's souls.”

On December 23, 1776, Thomas Paine wrote these famous words in his pamphlet, “The American Crisis.”

Late December 1776 may have been the American Revolution's gloomiest hour – a time when Patriot forces stood on the verge of losing the Revolutionary War. They seemed unable to win a battle. They lay shivering in Pennsylvania. The troops were hungry, sick, and exhausted. More and more men deserted every day. George Washington wrote in his journal, “I think the game is pretty near up.”

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Paine implored Americans to not give up the fight. George Washington ordered that the pamphlet be read aloud to his troops on Christmas Eve 1776 before they crossed the Delaware River to launch a surprise attack at Trenton.

“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. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: 'tis dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

“Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, the city and country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it and to repulse it. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

The Patriots began crossing the Delaware River as dark fell on Christmas night. Rain, hail and snow fell. The Hessian troops, hired by King George, felt confident that they had nothing to fear. They celebrated with roast goose and rum.

At first light on December 26, in a blinding snow storm, the Americans attacked. The sleeping and stunned Hessians had no opportunity to organize for the fight and within 45 minutes, the fighting was over. News of the American victory spread through the colonies. Perhaps the cause was not hopeless. Weary soldiers began to talk of fighting on. With one bold move, George Washington had his countrymen believing that the fight for liberty might be winnable after all.

The war was not over – it dragged on until October 1781 – but our forefathers persevered in the fight for this great nation of ours.

As 2012 draws near to an end we are, yet again, experiencing “…times that try men's souls.” But, like our forefathers, we will persevere. Our battles are of a different nature – the economy, unemployment, and terrorism – but we will fight them and we will win because we have a great and strong heritage that has shown us the way.

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Friends And Neighbors

On December 19, I delivered Christmas goodies and favors to the residents of Trinity Mission and the Piedmont Juvenile Detention Center on behalf of the Abilene Homemakers Club.

May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with peace and happiness.

If you have any news or announcements that you would like to share, please call me at 223-2271 or email me at kz5ro@kinex.net.