We're in the middle of what always seems to me like the most patriotic of seasons. Memorial Day was just a few weekends ago, this Sunday is Flag Day, and just a few weeks after that, we'll be eating watermelon and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. As a card-carrying Daughter of the American Revolution, I couldn't be happier. Bring on the flag bunting and red, white and blue jello parfaits.
Getting me in the mood for the season is a book I picked up at the library. God in the Foxhole details dozens of stories from the frontlines of American conflicts. Author Charles Sasser (a Navy and Army veteran) includes anecdotes from the Gulf Wars, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, the two World Wars, the Civil War, the Alamo, the Revolutionary War, and even the French and Indian War and King Philip's War (both fought on American soil before we were independent of those tea-taxing Brits).
Included among the stories of ordinary and even anonymous soldiers are the stories of some not-so-anonymous men and women, including Sen. John McCain, Clara Barton, and George Washington.
Washington's story comes not from the Revolutionary War, but the French and Indian War, when he was a young colonel in the Redcoat army. During a battle to capture the French Fort Duquesne, Washington rallied an outnumbered Virginia regiment and left the battlefield unharmed--but with a coat full of bullet holes. Fifteen years later, in 1770, an Indian chief who, during that battle at Fort Duquesne, had assigned his best sharpshooters to fell the Redcoat who fought like an Indian caught up with Washington to tell his side of the story and to deliver a message:
...a power mightier far than we shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades; but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington] and guides his destinies. He will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven and who can never die in battle.
Indeed, the Father of Our Country died in his bed in 1799 at the age of 67 after a sudden illness.