Resilience has been defined as, “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress…It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.”
Ever since the founding of our nation, resiliency has been an integral part of the American spirit. Let’s look at some of the many ways are history proves this.
The Pilgrims’ First Winter
Even before we were the United State of America, our early settlers showed great resiliency in overcoming the many challenges they faced when coming to a new land. Unlike the immigrants of today, they didn’t have cities to welcome them. In most instances, it was uncharted land that they literally had to build from the ground up. The pilgrims came in 1620 for the freedom to worship and to make a better life for their children. The first winter, more than half of them died. In spite of this, they pressed on and became one of America’s prosperous early settlements.
George Washington’s Army In One of the Worst Winters Ever
The winter of 1779-1780 was one of the worst winters in recorded history. Despite this fact, George Washington and his troops were fighting for the freedom of this nation.
Once site describes this winter,
”In January 1780…For the only time in recorded history, all of the saltwater inlets, harbors and sounds of the Atlantic coastal plain, from North Carolina northeastward, froze over and remained closed to navigation for a period of a month or more. Sleighs, not boats, carried cords of firewood across New York Harbor from New Jersey to Manhattan. The upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and the York and James rivers in Virginia turned to ice. In Philadelphia, the daily high temperature topped the freezing mark only once during the month of January, prompting Timothy Matlack, the patriot who had inscribed the official copy of the Declaration of Independence, to complain that ‘the ink now freezes in my pen within five feet of the fire in my parlour, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.'”
Yet anther site says,
”Of all the terrible winters that Washington faced during his lifetime, the frozen winter of 1779 and 1780 might have been the worst. While Valley Forge has become synonymous with winter misery during the Revolutionary War, by all historical accounts the winter encampment at Morristown, New Jersey was far worse. Trapped by one of the worst winters on record, Washington’s Continentals lacked food, clothes, and sufficient shelter. To further complicate the situation, the icy roads made it almost impossible to bring regular supplies to the suffering soldiers. The situation grew so dire that several regiments mutinied and Washington despaired for the future of the Revolutionary cause.
“In a March 18, 1780 letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, Washington wrote that ‘The oldest people now living in this Country do not remember so hard a Winter as the one we are now emerging from. In a word, the severity of the frost exceeded anything of the kind that had ever been experienced in this climate before.'”
As we all know, the American army worked through these challenges and went on to win us the freedoms we enjoy today.
A Birds’ Eye View
Instead of continuing to look in depth at many different events of our nation’s history (which would make for much too long of an article!), I want to briefly list some of the great challenges we’ve faced:
-Wars: at least 22 in the past 100 years alone
-Assassinations: such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy
-Economic Downturns: including the Great Depression, the 1980’s, and 2008
-Natural Disasters: including the Great San Francisco Fire and Earthquake, The Dust Bowl, Mount Saint Helens, and Hurricanes (Katrina, Harvey, and Irma to name not only the most recent, but also some of our nation’s worst.)
-Terror Attacks: September 11th and the Oklahoma City Bombing.
An article from foreignaffairs.com provides a nice recap, “Resilience has historically been one of the United States’ great national strengths. It was the quality that helped tame a raw continent and then allowed the country to cope with the extraordinary challenges that occasionally placed the American experiment in peril. From the early settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts to the westward expansion, Americans willingly ventured into the wild to build better lives. During the epic struggles of the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the two world wars; occasional economic downturns and the Great Depression; and the periodic scourges of earthquakes, epidemics, floods, and hurricanes, Americans have drawn strength from adversity. Each generation bequeathed to the next a sense of confidence and optimism about the future.”
An article from the American Thinker states, “Even with all the bad news, the country remains resilient. Our Constitution is older and more enduring than any other. Yes, the Left will do its best to undermine freedom, the way they already have in our universities and news media. They will try to turn us into an engine of internationalist Eurosocialism. They want another forty years of untrammeled power. They will use Green politics to impose a heavy regulatory state, and drive wedges by gender, class and race to split our people…Our job is to be ourselves, and not be intimidated. Don’t be apologetic for opposing the hype of the moment.”
As Americans, resiliency has been and continues to be an integral part of who we are. This shouldn’t make us ignore the challenges we face today, but rather give us courage to work to overcome them. As a nation, resilience has kept us going when life could have knocked us down. Despite many differences, difficult times have alway brought the American people together. Together we press on and overcome. Together we rebuild and restore. Together we can make a difference both now and for the future. Let’s stand and fight to restore and preserve liberty together.