by Wayne Flaherty
The other day I was thinking about the challenges we face as a nation. They are formidable indeed. I recalled another time when our fledgling nation was struggling to be born.
Our struggle for independence was almost unbelievable in the size and scope of the problems faced by the patriots. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to spend a winter at Valley Forge. The bitter cold must have cut through the soldier's pitiful clothing to chill them to the bone. If being there were not bad enough, they lived on a near starvation diet. Some even had no shoes and wrapped their feet in rags to keep out the cold. For shelter, they had only tents. Anyone who has ever slept in a tent during a campout will recognize a tent as a poor substitute for a home with walls and windows and doors. To live in one, day after day, during a bitter winter makes me wonder if I would have had the courage to remain. Talk about a challenge. This was the ragtag army that General George Washington would lead against the most powerful army on earth.
There was dissension in other places in the colonies. Some distance away, other leaders of the colonies were listening to Patrick Henry give his most famous speech. As he ended it with,
"I know what course others may take, but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
The halls echoed with cries of TREASON! Even faced with the truth about their enemy, some people still clung to "the devil they know."
On December 23, 1776, in a small print shop in Philadelphia, Thomas Paine put pen to paper to remind those who were still undecided on what direction to take.
"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 everything 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."
As the Republican National Convention proceeds amid controversy and rancor, we would do well to remember where we came from and what others had to endure to get us here. Soon, you will have a decision to make about the future we face. By virtue of God's grace, you will not have to stand shivering and starving in some wintry valley. You will not have to face your neighbor as he cries out in opposition to you. Yet, you can have as profound an effect on America's future as any patriot from 1776. All you have to do is step into a voting booth to make your voice heard.
I urge you to vote to take back our country - before it's too late.