July 4, 2010

Sweet Land of Liberty

This is my all-time-favorite painting by Arnold Friberg.
General George Washington praying at Valley Forge. 

This painting is more that just a nice little thought that the artist had about what Washington might have done.  It is actually a scene witnessed by Issac Potts, a resident of Valley Forge who, as a Quaker, had been opposed to the war.   The account is recorded by Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, a Presbyterian minister and Princeton graduate: 
I was riding with him (Mr. Potts) in Montgomery County, Penn'a near to the Valley Forge, where the army lay during the war of ye Revolution. Mr. Potts was a Senator in our State and a Whig. I told him I
was agreeably surprised to find him a friend to his country as the Quakers were mostly Tories.
He said, "It was so and I was a rank Tory once, for I never believed that America could proceed against Great Britain whose fleets and armies covered the land and ocean, but something very extraordinary converted me to the Good Faith!"

"What was that," I inquired?
"Do you see that woods, and that plain?" It was about a quarter of a mile off from the place we were riding, as it happened. "There," said he, "laid the army of Washington. It was a most distressing time of ye war, and all were for giving up the Ship but that great and good man. In that woods pointing to a close in view, I heard a plaintive sound as, of a man at prayer. I tied my horse to a sapling and went quietly into the woods and to my astonishment I saw the great George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at Prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine aid, as it was ye Crisis, and the cause of the country, of humanity and of the world.
Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying. I went home and told my wife, I saw a sight and heard today what I never saw or heard before, and just related to her what I had seen and heard and observed. We never thought a man could be a soldier and a Christian, but if there is one in the world, it is Washington. She also was astonished. We thought it was the cause of God, and America could prevail."

George Washington was so loved and respected by the American people that they would have made him king.  
However, Washington would only agree to serve as president, and for only two terms.
The world was watching during the moment when Washington said he would give up his power after two terms as President of the United States of America.
King George of England said, "If he gives up his power, as he said he would, he will be the greatest man in the world."
And, without a moment's hesitation, President Washington did.

I know it would be annoyingly cliche to say that this man is my hero,
but I don't care and I'll say it anyway.
George Washington is my hero.
He embodied everything that made this the greatest country on earth:
faith, courage, strength, freedom, service, and humility.
And someday, I will have a ginormous print of this painting hanging up in my home to remind myself and my family of this everyday.


The Allen Family said...

Thanks Holly, what a great post for the 4th!

Claire Christensen said...

I agree, I am going to have that painting someday also. What a fantastic story, I wish more Americans knew it! And now more do, thanks Holly

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