When Would George Washington Have Quit?

The next time you see a college student ask him or her, “How many colonial soldiers were killed by the British before George Washington called it quits and put an end to American’s war for independence?” Don’t be surprised if you actually get a number.

On Wednesday night, October 26th, college students across the nation participated in various anti-war protests or, as many of them referred to it, vigils commemorating the 2,000 military deaths in Iraq. These so called “vigils” included much more than candles and Kumbaya.

In New Haven, Connecticut, students from Yale attended a vigil where the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” were handed-out and John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” was sung. In Greensboro, North Carolina, dozens gathered on the Guilford College campus proclaiming, “Not one more death, not one more dollar.” In Gainesville, students from the University of Florida joined others in an anti-war protest. And, in Evanston, Illinois, students from Northwestern University took part in an anti-war protest where signs read “Let the dead teach the living,” and “How many more?”

The loss of 2,000 lives is tragic. In fact, the loss of even one life is heartbreaking. But, to pick some sort of magical “death toll number” as to when America should tuck its tail between its legs and run is down right un-American! They want to know, “How many more?” The answer is: “As many as it takes.” The price of 2,000 lives over a two and a half year period – for the cause of freedom – is small compared to what our forefathers paid.

August 6, 1777: almost 500 colonial soldiers were killed by the British in Upstate New York. Did George Washington quit after losing 500 men in one day? No. He went on and won the Revolutionary War.

September 17, 1862: more than 26,000 soldiers – including some 12,000 Union soldiers – died in the Battle of Antietam. President Lincoln lost 12,000 men in one day, but did he quit? No.

July 1863: after a three day battle in the town of Gettysburg, more than 51,000 men lay dead including 23,000 Union soldiers. It was regarded as a major victory for the North and a turning point in the Civil War.

June 6, 1944 – D-Day: Allied forces sustained an estimated 10,000 casualties after storming the beaches of Normandy, France. But, General Dwight D. Eisenhower pressed his troops onward and won World War II.

Indeed, let the dead teach the living! There is no price, no number too great for the cause of freedom.

Unfortunately, these are not the sentiments of some of those within our nation’s institutions of higher learning. While they enjoy the benefits of freedom provided by our forefathers, they mock and forget the costs of upholding it. One student told the Yale Daily News, “I think [the war] is a waste of time, energy and lives, and is about money, not democracy. …There’s been talk of a voluntary draft…I am afraid of a draft and everyone should be, with the frequency of casualties.”

George Washington must be turning over in his grave! What would the Father of our country have said to someone making these types of comments during America’s fight for independence: “You, coward.” 

Those who have tasted freedom should be the most adamant about defending and promoting it. But, today this is not the case. While most of us are grateful for the brave men and women who voluntarily enlist and serve our country for the cause of freedom, others seemingly wish to withhold this precious gift from those in need by recalling the men and women who share it. Still others fear and dread that, should it be necessary, one day they may be called upon to serve our country. Nathan Hale, a Revolutionary War hero who regretted that he had but one life to give for this country, would be appalled.        

Those who took part in these so called “vigils” and anti-war protests across the country should remember the price our forefathers paid for freedom and the costs we must endure to uphold it. All of us, especially those within our nation’s institutions of higher learning, should heed the words of Patrick Henry: 

Gentleman may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. …Our brethren are already in the field. …What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty, or give me death!