“Lee to the rear!” shouted the men as their brave general led a passionate advance from the front towards the enemy. A soldier galloped ahead and caught up, grabbed his horse by the reins and steered him around.
“Forward then!” Shouted Lee after resuming his position. His fervor instilled such vigour in the men that although the odds were stacked against them, they won a decisive victory, proving the maxim right that battles are won before the first bullet is shot.
Who are these men and women who have stood the test of time and won our admiration throughout the ages? Their courage fuels their fury and although they tremble like the rest of us, grit their teeth and move onwards as if nothing’s fazed them. They are men of heart, men of force, men of vigor, men of purpose; the world steps aside and makes way for these men.
“What obstacle can stay the mighty force of the sea-seeking river in its course?” asks Ella Wilcox. “Fortunate is he whose earnest purpose never swerves, whose slightest action or inaction serves the one great aim. Why, even Death stands still and waits an hour sometimes for such a will. All things give way before it, soon or late.”
Reverend Thomas Byles who embodies the saying that “Some men are born great, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” turned down all offers of a lifeboat during the sinking of the Titanic, and instead, offered a helping hand to those who needed saving. As the ship sank on the one half , he made his way toward the other, where hundreds of people were trapped. There he listened to their confessions and performed their last rites, even as the water around them rose.
“Dare and the world always yields;” sad William Thackery, “though it beats you sometimes, dare again and it will succumb.” Another said, “Do what you are afraid to do, go where you are afraid to go. If you set out to achieve something, don’t come back until you have achieved it,” — W. Clement Stone.
During the Cuban Revolution in the 50’s, teenage lieutenant Joel Iglesias, recounts a time while fighting alongside Che Guevara during a skirmish in the forest where he ended up wounded in battle. He marvels how some men inspire inspiration in others, even in their enemies. They were exchanging gunfire with armed Cuban forces who were 30 meters away, all spread out and shooting in the forest. On the opposite side was Guevera’s forces, stationed in the same fashion. Guevara was on the flank, Iglesias was in the center.
During the exchange, Iglesias was shot and wounded, and, in his own words, he recalls; “Che ran out to me, defying the bullets, threw me over his shoulder, and got me out of there. The guards didn’t dare fire at him, later they told me he made such a great impression on them that when they saw him run out towards the gunfire tucking his pistol in his belt, ignoring the danger, they didn’t dare shoot.”
“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle,” was Guevera’s mantra, echoing the spoken words of Homer, “but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
In Africa, the Massai have worked out a way to obtain large game in the open Savannah. The flat grasslands forces the hunter to be faster than the prey, failing which, he must then outsmart him. It takes just 3 men to steal meat from a pack of 15 hungry lions. They say it’s in the approach, their brazen stroll, the broad shoulders, the determination to take what they want, which scatters thel ions. They walk up to the game and slice off big chunks of meat then walk away.
“Courage,” says Socrates, “is the most important of all virtues.”
“Far better it is,” cried Theodore Roosevelt, “to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Of this man’s spirit it was said that death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there would have been a fight.