Monday, July 3, 2017

Greatness is in the Unselfishness of the Sacrifice

The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 was the final icing on the cake.  This symbolized the end of accepting years of tyranny under the British rule.  This is a time for us to reflect on the people who made this happen.  The farmers, merchants and everyday people who had the passion and the grit to stand up for what they believed in.  All through the generations, there has been people in all of our families who, at one time or another came to be an unlikely hero or inspired others to action.  They didn’t necessarily become the overall well known leader, such as General then President, George Washington.  They were people like Sam Adams and with his band of rebels had the passion and determination to rally others to action; Dr. Joseph Warren, who gave his life for his beliefs that fateful day at Bunker Hill; Paul Revere, who rode so long and hard that night.  They, among others, go down in history as leaders of the cause.

Grit and determination abounds

Each generation in our families has seen people who could be called small town heroes.  People that didn’t say, “No, I can’t do this”.  But people who acted on their beliefs and said, “Yes! Count me in” and didn’t think twice about the glory or the accolades but stepped up when they were needed.

I "blame" all the grit and determination on the early
comers, who instilled their passion for survival into future generations.  They came with nothing, having but the shirts on their back and what they were allowed to take with them into an already overcrowded 17th century ship sailing into the unknown.  The determination for survival was great. 
They had to protect themselves from the elements, learn how to grow food and adjust themselves to everyday life in a totally unknown environment.  But survive they did!  


There are two people in my family I would consider inspirations.  They gave of themselves without fear or expectation.  As it turns out both are descendants of the same immigrant, John Whitman a pious, everyday man who passed on his passions and his righteous beliefs to his children.

Westward bound

Statuary Hall
Washington DC
Marcus Whitman (1802-1847) is a collateral cousin, a brother to my 4th great grandfather.  He is seldom talked about today because of conflicts in political correctness but his actions are worthy of mention and at the very least inspiring.   Marcus’ grandfather, Samuel Whitman was a fire and brimstone preacher of the Second Great Awakening era.  He took Marcus under his wing when his father died.  Marcus’ desire was to be a minister.  As he got older, he studied medicine.  With both needed skills and education he joined the American Mission Society.  He and his wife, Narcissa joined another couple to travel west over the Rocky Mountains. They were to work with the Indians to bring religion and medical assistance.  This little party of four ended their journey in what is now Washington state, setting up a mission in the Walla Walla Valley.  By the 1840s, as the British were trying to take control of the Oregon area, Whitman went back to Washington, DC to meet with President McKinley.  This meeting resulted in Marcus Whitman leading the first wagon train over the Rockies in what history calls the “Oregon Trail” in 1843.  His unselfish actions saved many people’s lives and helped to develop the country.  He gave his life for his beliefs.  Today, the state of Washington honors him in the Hall of Statues in Washington, DC, dressed as the mountain man he was with his medical bag and Bible under his arm.

Onward to War

Sylvia Whitman (1923-1984) is my mother’s first cousin.  She, along with another woman, got on a steamer in 1939 to travel as missionaries to Japan and China. The war had already started in Europe and within a few years the Pacific would be
 engulfed as well.  Sylvia had a drive and a passion to help the orphaned children.  She served this area for over 30 years.  During WWII she took her children to the mountains for protection.  How traumatic it must have been to hide with her children, knowing that the bombs raining down were from her own country!  Years later, as Sylvia lay dying from a disease she contracted, she cried out to save the children.

Being a genealogist one learns much about the history of the times that the ancestors lived.  America has had war in its history since the beginning.  It’s not the war that should be celebrated nor the victory.  The celebration should be for the people who pushed forward to make their small sacrifices an inspiration towards the greatness of the whole. 

Whatever time period your ancestors came into the country, embrace their sacrifices.  For in the end, that’s what really has made America great!

pictures: Google images

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