“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.” ~ Samuel Adams
As we take a bit of a break from the normal routine today in honor of our July 4th Independence Day, the History Channel has been telling the stories of the revolution… the hardship of George Washington’s rag-tag soldiers, the transformation of Benedict Arnold from would-be hero of the continental army to bitter traitor, the importance of the press and written word in encouraging the colonists to keep fighting, and the role of the French ships in sealing our defeat of the English army. Interestingly enough, Gen. George Washington even had a bit of a stimulus package plan of his own when he convinced his soldiers to stay and fight with the promise of $10 for each of them that he did not have! The moral of that story may be that sometimes things don’t seem to have changed much and, hey, it seems to have worked didn’t it? Anyway…
On July 4th, our family can make a personal connection to our country’s fight for independence when we look back to the legacy of my great-great-great-great grandfather Henry Hayes, Sr. who was born on May 2, 1762 in Luneburg Co., Virginia. At the age of 18 in March 1781, he volunteered to serve as a private in the Army of the Revolution and, that year, served two terms of three months each. In October of 1781 he was stationed at Gloucester Point on the Little York River in Virginia. In his own words, written in a pension application at the age of 95, he described cooperating with Gen. George Washington and the French forces and witnessing the surrender of Cornwallis that signaled the end of the Revolutionary War. Following the surrender of the British forces, he helped to capture the Torries who had sympathized and fought with the opposing army and guarded the captives as his company marched them back to Richmond, Virginia to await their trial.
Although it could be argued that he was not a great general, nor were his actions notably heroic; he was there as were many other young men and most likely, scared, hungry, cold and uncertain if he would live to see the morning dawn. His parents, Henry and Ann, were no doubt worried about his return and, at the same time, proud of his courage and willingness to fight for our young country.
Throughout the various wars, conflicts, and struggles for freedom that have occurred in this country since that time, countless people of all ages have gone the distance and given everything they had to give (including their very lives) for our freedom and the liberties that we enjoy every day. To me, that’s what today is all about! Today is a great day to think back to the experiences of my 4-greats-grandpa Henry and the countless other individuals who have given their service to our country helping to preserve our cherished freedom and the democracy that makes our country great.
(Family members who want to learn more about Henry and also to update the family tree with new births, spouses, etc. can go to http://www.whiddenfarm.com/genealogy/ and request a password. Jesse will soon e-mail you back with login information. Please feel free to make any additions to your immediate family information as needed.)