HILL: Participate in victory ― or not at all

General George Washington and troops crossing the Delaware River in 1776 are depicted in this painting, location and date unknown. (AP Photo)

On Christmas Eve, 1776, General George Washington threw a figurative Hail Mary pass to lead his bedraggled troops cross the Delaware River in a snowstorm and attack Hessian soldiers in Trenton, New Jersey. 

The code name was “Victory or Death.”  Six thousand men were in the Continental Army at the beginning of 1776 but less than 2000 soldiers remained by the end of the year. 80% of them were due to leave in a week when their enlistments were up.  The crossing of the Delaware was the last-ditch effort by the newly-declared independent states of America to win a decisive victory against the hated British before the army effectively disbanded and defaulted America back into subservience to the Crown. 

They were going to be victorious ― and establish a new sense of confidence in the Revolution ― or they were going to be put to death for rebelling against the Crown. 

Before the Durham boats were launched, Washington had Thomas Paine’s most recent pamphlet, “The Crisis” read out loud to the troops included the following now-famous passage:  

“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: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”. 

There are a lot of people today in 2022 who think it is over for the United States of America. They routinely email, text or call to say they “have had it” with politics and state they will never give money ever again to any political race because they are “tired of losing all the time”. 

Here’s one representative quote: “There is no coming back now from the death spiral of our debt, interest payments on debt, and continued higher deficits and money printing to try and escape the consequences of profligacy. ’23 will be full of jobs losses, businesses collapsing, and bank crises.” 

There is only one answer to such complainers: “Go ahead ― please quit.”

Quitting means no one else ever has to listen to their defeatism again. Once a person stops trying at any endeavor, their opinion on what should or should not happen becomes totally irrelevant. They become like banging gongs or clinging cymbals in the Bible ― an annoying distraction which contributes nothing positive to the ultimate outcome. 

General Henry Knox was known affectionately to his close friend George Washington and others as “the Ox” due to his 280-pound girth, gargantuan for the 18th century. Knox was the hero of Ticonderoga when he captured British cannon which later was going to cross the Delaware on that cold, icy night and used against the Hessians in Trenton. 

He had this to say about the soldiers under his command: “We want great men who, when fortune frowns, will not be discouraged”. 

What we face today in America is peanuts compared to what Washington’s army faced in 1776. Or to what our parents and grandparents faced in the Depression only to be followed by the war against Hitler and the Nazis and Japanese imperialism in World War II. 

If people who want America to survive and prosper can’t ― or worse, won’t ― use their collective reason, intelligence, energy and, yes, their financial resources to defeat the likes of leftist socialists such as AOC, Joe Biden, George Soros and Marc Elias, we in the 21st century don’t deserve to be considered the descendants of those who fought for our freedoms in the past. 

We can all resolve to do more ― and better ― in 2023.