On December 25, 1776, George Washington lead his army across the ice-choked Delaware River to launch a surprise attack on the Hessian garrison encamped at Trenton, New Jersey. It was an audacious move that ended in a much-need victory for the new Republic (you can read about the battle here).
Before the attack was launched, Gen. Washington sent men and officers through the army's ranks to read to from a recently published pamplet titled "The American Crisis." Written by Thomas Paine, its message is as stirring today as it was to the soldiers under Washington's command:
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Our struggle is different from that of Washington and his army. liberty">Liberty is engrained in our character. But it can only be preserved through vigilance, courage, and a willingness to act when it would be far easier to do nothing.
We thank you for your work in the cause of liberty...and wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.