Jack Jouett Chapter NSDAR
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Reprinted in its entirety with permission from its author
Min Su Kim
Jack Jouett Middle School
“Daddy, don’t go,” I hear myself whisper as my father tugs away from my embrace.
“Sonya, if I don’t go, who’s going to fight for our freedom, or do you want those British to always watch our every move?”
My father spits when he says British. It’s ironic to think that when I was born, I was British.
My 15 year old brother, Thomas, smiles at me, saying, “Sonya, father and I have to go. You know what Paul Revere just said. He’s still yelling outside and it is midnight!”
“Don’t go. Please.”
My mother is sniffling beside me, and I cry beside her.
My brother and my father start packing, grabbing the guns that my grandfather had given each of them when he’d passed away. By 4:00 AM, they stand at the gates of our farm, yelling at my mother and me to hide in the cellar. We’d packed our bags by then, and locked the cellar door on top of us. My mother and I sit there with a group of slaves until I hear a gunshot that shakes the whole house. Then it seems like chaos has erupted. I hear yelling and more gunshots. The slaves around me cringe, and I huddle in with them, hearing their frantic whispers. My mother hugs me, trying not to scream in horror. The firing stops, and I hear British voices as footsteps diminish. I slowly open the cellar door, and crawl out of the farm to the town green.
I see my brother hobbling over to me, carrying my father, who seems to have been shot in the leg. I scream, rushing to my father.
I frantically wrap my shawl around his leg, making a make-shift bandage. He smiles at me weakly, and tells me to fetch him a stick. I get a stick about four feet long, and give it to him, in which he makes a walking stick out of along with his gun.
My brother’s face is contorted with rage, and he swears under his breath. He rushes off on his horse, not telling me where he’s going.
I draw my attention from him to my father, helping him into the house. My mother screams too, bringing strips of cloth and a washcloth with water. My father winces in pain as my mother cautiously dabs at the wound. She shakily takes the bullet out with her tweezers, and my father yells with tears streaming out of his eyes in small cascades. My mother grits her teeth, and covers the wound with the strips of cloth, then sits down with her hands covering her eyes.
The next day, I see my brother through the window. He is covered with soot, and looks tired. His gun is slung carelessly over his shoulder, and his clothes are in tatters. When he sees me though, his grin seems to light up the world. I run to him, smacking him on the arm for running away. He smiles, then sprints to our bed-ridden father.
It was July 4th when my brother heard the news that George Washington, the newest commander in chief, was recruiting soldiers. The next day, my brother and my healed father disappeared, along with their bags and gun. When I hear that they’d joined the Continental Army, I am not surprised. Mother and I send my father letters every day, but he never replies back.
Maintaining the farm is now just another chore of mine, and not Father’s. I seed, grow, and harvest each plant while my mother cleans the house and cooks. I read the news every day, just in case my father or brother’s name appears in the ‘deceased’ section.
On January 20th, 1778, my father’s name, Edward Williams, is on the ‘deceased’ list of the newspaper. Next to it are two words: Valley Forge. My tears will not stop flowing, and it feels as if the world is crushing me. My mother strays around the house as if she were in a trance, and I take care of both house and farm while my mother is immobile. I do not send anyone letters, until 1783, when I turn 23. The newspaper states that a peace treaty has been signed with the British.
The next month after this article, my brother stumbles through the iron gates of our farm. Thomas looks like a complete stranger. His cheekbones are jutting out, and scars line his face. His hair goes to his shoulders, and he is smothered with dirt. His nose is not straight. His once clean uniform is stained with blood and is almost in rags. His eyes, though, are scariest. They look haunted; as if he has seen a loved one die too many times. Yet, when he sees me, he smiles the smile I love most; the one that lights up my world. I run to his waiting arms, crying. His eyes tear up, and he whispers endless words in my ear. How father died. What Valley Forge was like. Having to watch his best friend, Albert, get shot…But that doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve got my brother back from an eight year war, and that satisfies me. He is safe forever, and I do not have to worry about his name, too, on the death list.
The fact that I am duller, am haunted in my nightmares, and cannot lift my head without looking for my father is little compared to the freedom I am experiencing for the first time. Thomas and I are now both adults, so we will take care of mother, and of my father’s formal funeral. Responsibility is something that must now come naturally. The war has changed my lifestyle, but the freedom, the sweet freedom my father died for smothers it. I can only now wait for the freedom to heal me completely.