Our beautiful country is often referred to as “The Great Experiment” and its short history is packed with interesting facts and amazing anecdotes. . . much of it trivia, but still interesting and memorable. A grasp of this history is essential to all Americans’ maintaining their freedom and rights, as well as a source of constant pride and reassurance of what free men and women can accomplish. George Washington’s story alone, can leave one awe-struck when the realities of the Revolutionary War are meditated on. Seven years of the Continental Army suffering excruciating privation, achieving small victories and enduring large defeats and in the face of it all, Washington maintained his self-discipline and — at least to his men – did not waver in his faith and dedication to God. This was a man who would have been hanged as a traitor, had the war been lost to the British and all of the soldiers under his command would have suffered a similar fate. Such pressure would produce soul-crushing anxiety in lesser men.
Or consider Abraham Lincoln, who had to lead the broken country through the morass of the War of the Rebellion and an abundance of incompetent military leaders until finally Generals Grant and Sherman rose to the top. And those two great and glorious men who also struggled with alcoholism and deep depression, respectively, yet they brought ultimate victory to the Union forces, but treated the defeated Rebels with grace and compassion, remembering that they were fellow citizens and to be respected in that light. There are the great citizens of color to be remembered, too: Inventor and scientist, George Washington Carver, thinkers and writers Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois; Mary McLeod Bethune, educator, activist and government official; Harriet Tubman, brave and tireless conductor on the Underground Railroad; poet and slave, Phillis Wheatley and many, many more. All of these Americans have given us shining lights to follow and also interesting stories and anecdotes that dotted their lives and give us pleasure to read and think upon. America’s short history is one of the most sparkling and scintillating in the world’s file cabinet of histories and records of human endeavors, ups and downs.