Lacey Smith

Ordinary People

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

A repeated theme in this weekend’s Independence Day celebrations has really got me thinking.

The events I went to had not coordinated with each other and, besides celebrating America, had very little related.

Yet each of them mentioned one point that was nearly identical. It is one I have not heard much focus on in the past; maybe it’s me hearing what I’m ready for or maybe it really is the first time there has been this emphasis.

Over and over this weekend I heard the message that America was built by ordinary people.

When I think of our founders, I don’t think of them as ordinary. However, when I evaluate the ones I know individually and then step outside the famous ones, I realize that they were ordinary.

George Washington, who I admire more than anyone except one or two others, was not an extraordinary general. He lost more battles than he won. He did win when it counted very most, but he was at best an average general.

He was fairly extraordinary when it came to personal character. Honest and committed, his personal choices were and are what set him apart.

John Jay was a lawyer, as many famous founders were, and the son of a merchant. John Hancock was a merchant. Samuel Adams went to college to be a minister. Thomas Paine was a corset maker.

These are the famous names. There are thousands of others who are less known and completely forgotten.

They were lawyers, merchants, ministers, farmers, craftsmen, homemakers, servants. None of them were born extraordinary. It is what they did that makes us remember them as exceptional men and women.

I think we so often look at those involved in the creation of our nation and we see the famous names and think of them as extraordinary.

While there is truth in this, there is also danger. We lose sight of our role in American freedom.

There were some 45,000 fighting in militias and another 35,000 in the Continental Army at the height of Revolutionary strength. This is only a small number as it doesn’t take into account the steady turnover of the army.

Far more than 80,000 ordinary people – most who were not soldiers – created our country. There were thousands who fought the British in their own quiet ways, families who sacrificed their husbands and sons (and even some wives and daughters).

And after the war there were still more who rebuilt the colonies into states, who lobbied for ratification of the Constitution, who were elected to run their states and serve in Congress.

We don’t know their names. They didn’t do it so history would remember them.

Even the very famous, very revered Thomas Jefferson wondered if the world was better for him having lived.

Part of America’s brilliance is that it gets its strength from ordinary people – you and me. That is also America’s weak point. If we shirk our responsibility our country will fail.

We have within ourselves the ability to make extraordinary choices. We can be Washingtons, Adamses, Jeffersons and Paines.

We are ordinary people and that’s just what America needs to survive.

It’s time to take courage and do something small and ordinary on behalf of our nation. You’d be amazed at what ordinary can do!


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