To the Editor:
During the American Revolutionary War, Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams (later to be our second U.S. President), wrote a letter to her 11-year-old son, John Quincy (later to be the sixth U.S. President).The letter was sent before her husband and son set sail on their second voyage past a British blockade to secure France’s support.
In "The American Spirit – Who We Are and What We Stand For," David McCullough quotes part of the letter:
“These are the times in which a genius would wish to live.It is not in the still calm of life or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed.The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant wake into life and form the character of the hero…”
Keep in mind that, during that time, besides the crushing stress of war, Americans faced “rampant epidemics, dysentery, and smallpox.”
In the year 2020, a time of pandemic, social awareness and unrest regarding needed police reforms and “Black Lives Matter,” unemployment and economic turmoil, a divided nation facing an election year, outside forces impinging our national security, and other stresses, I think words written by Abigail Adams almost 250 years ago are still relevant today, and they can help sustain and support us.