Here’s what happened to us today. We are studying the American Revolution and I wanted the kids to write a poem today about George Washington crossing the Delaware. My recollection of learning this event was very vague. I am pretty sure this subject was covered in one paragraph of a history primer some time during second or third grade and then long forgotten. What we have learned this time around is much more comprehensive because this is now our favorite subject. I need to give a brief accounting of this event so you understand the context of what she wrote. If you are a history buff, bear with me.
George Washington was a hero in the eyes of the Colonists and a “shoe in” as the first General of the Colonial Army. Interestingly, his career as a General, prior to and during the Revolution pretty much consisted of losses in battles. He didn’t exactly have great winning stats behind him. He desperately needed “a win” to garner commitment from his shoestring army and financial support from the King of France. (It turns out, even in Colonial days, fundraising was a necessary evil).
George Washington effectively utilized spies during the Revolutionary War, and one of them, a man named John Honeywell, managed to infiltrate the hired German soldiers (the Hessions) who were fighting on behalf of Great Brittain. He told General Raul that Washington’s army was in dire straights, disorganized and posed no threat to the Hessions. He was truthful about the first two items. He returned to Washington and effectively described the essential details of the Brittish encampment so that he could plan his attack. The Hessions were flush with food, supplies, uniforms and cash. It turns out they had everything that they needed except “divine inspiration.”
Washington had nothing working in his favor. The men were starving, bare foot, sick, exhausted and broke. Most were hanging on by a prayer, but somehow Washington instilled in them, a sense of divine inspiration. On Christmas morning 1776, Washington and his men crossed 9 miles of the Delaware River through ice and a blistering storm, taking the Hessions by surprise and capturing 900 men. It was our first and possibly most important victory.
I wanted my children to recount this story in the form of a poem so that we could efficiently combine writing and history. What I got was “divine inspiration” that comes only from a sense of mastery. My daughter knew the details of the story so well, that she was beyond them. She went straight to the heart of the matter--the emotional state of the Colonial soldiers and the faith they put in their leader-GW. This is what she wrote and I swear to you, it took her all of 10 minutes. I helped her with the word “anguish”, and that was my sole contribution. I made one other suggestion and she quickly responded, “no Mom, it is exactly as it should be.” She was right. Who am I to interfere with this level of divinity?
Here we are waiting;
cold, bare, wanting to know.
How we will live with those dying,
those poor, anguished, and given up?
We know not how it will go,
that horrible bloody war lying ahead.
They have those which withstand,
have what they have, and create death.
We God forsaken men shall die of hunger, and frost;
loved ones crying at our beds.
Again we will perish for they do not know
we struggle to survive for the fate of our country...America.
Our leader lives with no hatred, only trust in us.
We have let him down for we have died without faith or triumph
He has tried to lift hopes,
but no peace is there.
But our spirit lives on with our dreams,
and we shall live on with our hopes.
~Austin Nicole Eder
age 10, 2/11/09
This was my nauseatingly proud parent moment! Thanks for sharing it with me. I know we have all had them, but I think we need to take the time to marvel in their divinity!