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DAR recognizes local student essay winners

February 4, 2011

The Hic-A-Sha-Ba-Ha chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution recognized four area essay winners Thursday in a ceremony.
DAR Local Regent Maxine Hamilton called this meeting "the most special program of the year" because of the involvement of the local students. Each year, there is a different theme to the essay, and this year's theme for the middle school contest was the memoirs of Paul Revere. The high school essay theme was Christopher Columbus.
First place winners included Henderson Intermediate fifth grader Sean Mackin, Armstrong Middle School sixth grader Clay Turner, AMS eighth grader Melinda Xu and Starkville High junior John Madsen. Each winner recited their essay aloud to the daughters during their meeting Thursday and were presented with a certificate of appreciation.

"Memoirs of Paul Revere" by Melinda Xu

I am Paul Revere. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in December 1734. I owned a silver shop that I inherited from my father. I lived in Boston during the American Revolution. I have done many things in my life: I was a silversmith, a messenger, a patriot and even a solider. I hope my accomplishments will be remembered.
Like many other skilled craftsmen, I could make spoons, bowls, teapots, cups and many other items. In addition, I knew how to make copper engravings. For example, in the 1760's, I made a number of political engravings and was a member of the Sons of Liberty. My most famous engraving was of the Boston Massacre, which took place in March of 1770.
What I considered as the most important accomplish was that was a messenger during the American Revolution. For example, in 1774, General Thomas Gage discovered that the rebels were planning to take the weapons stored in Fort William and Mary. The Sons of Liberty sent me to ride to Portsmouth, New Hampshire on December 13 to alert the militiamen there, who surrounded the fort and seized the weapons the next day. Then, in the spring of 1775, I rode to Concord to warn the militia about the British's plan to seize the weapons stored there.
On another ride, I went to lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming and might arrest them. My most famous ride was on April 18, 1775. William Dawes and I were told to inform the militia in Concord and Lexington of the British Army's approach. I told the sexton of the Old North Church to hang lanterns as a signal as soon as we know how the British planned to come.
One lantern would mean they were coming by land, whereas two would mean they were coming by water. I rowed swiftly across the harbor toward the Charleston ferry landing and borrowed a horse there to get to Lexington. One the way, I warned the other patriots so they could deliver warnings of their own. I told everybody, "The Regulars are coming out." Dawes and I were later joined by Samuel Prescott while riding. The three of us were stopped at a roadblock in Lincoln. We split up in an attempt to escape. Prescott rode to the left, avoided the guards and successfully alerted the militia in Concord. Dawes escaped too, but he fell off his horse shortly afterward so he headed back to Lexington. I rose through the woods but ran into several more British guards. I was questioned and escorted by the soldiers back toward Lexington. In the morning, the British heard gunshots and confiscated my horse and set off toward the noise so I had no choice by to continue on foot.
I walked until I returned to the house where Adams and Hancock were staying. I helped them flee from Lexington with their possessions, which included a trunk full of important papers about the rebels' plans while the battle began outside on the green.
In addition to being a silversmith and messenger, I was also a military contractor. After the battles had ceased, I was required to assemble an army of at least eight thousand soldiers for an anticipated attack on Boston. Riding through New England towns, I explained why it was necessary to recruit an army. Many men volunteered, but there was no money to pay the soldiers. I was hired by the rebels leaders to print paper money for the soldiers that could be later swapped for coins. Believing that the British would return, General Washington asked me to gather a team and sail to Castle Island. I repaired the damaged cannons on the island, and created more efficient gun carriages.
Many people do not know that I was a soldier, too. I had fought before in the French and Indian War in 1756 as a member of the Massachusetts militia but this time, I would be fighting against the British. During a disastrous expedition in August 1779, I lost my ship and became separated from the other men. The plan had been to capture the naval base in Penobscot Bay but the British attacked from behind without warning, causing chaos. After I arrived in Boston, I was charged with disobeying orders and I was also dismissed from the militia. That was the end of my military career. The Revolutionary War finally ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. I was finally given a trial and cleared of charges. America was free at last.
After the war, I decided to start bell casting when the bell in my church cracked. I enlisted the help of a man who had cast bells in England. Together, we made a mold for the massive 900-pound bell and cast it successfully. Later, my son and I made numerous bells for churches all over New England. I decided to construct a mill to produce sheet copper. It was extremely risky. I had spent a lot of money on building the mill. If it didn't work, I wold have nothing left. But I wasn't afraid. When George Washington died in December 14, 1799, I crafted a tiny gold urn, designed to hold a lock of Washington's' hair. In 1801, my mill finally opend. The copper was of a good quality. Six thousand feet of the copper was used to cover the dome of the New State House. At the age of 76, I retired from managing the mill. My soon took over most of my duties.
I have lived a long and eventful life compared to the life span of most men in my day. I was always an adventurous person, even as I got older and I never refused a challenge. I have always been an ambitious person and a hard worker. But that is who I am, and I am Paul Revere.

"Lessons from Christopher Columbus' Life" by John Madsen

Everyone, at various points in his life, finds himself doing something he thought would be easy, but leads him into an adventure quite out of his fathoming. This adventure can be enjoyable, or it can be a series of impossible trails and hardships. Anyone will tell you, it's generally not the enjoyable ones; and few can tell you how difficult such an adventure can be than Christopher Columbus.
For many years before his famous expedition to the Americas, Christopher Columbus had the brilliant idea that ships could save time getting to India by going west around the world, rather than down and around Cape Horn, the southern tip of Africa. He was quite sure his plan would work. For years and years he tried to find someone who would finance his thoroughly planned expedition; the expedition to sail the western passage. After about 13 years of patiently carrying out his quest, he was granted patronage by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. They supplied him three shits and 88 men for what was, at the time, the most absurdly perilous expedition ever planned.
They arrived at the New World after two months at sea, longing to find land, to break the monotony and isolation of life at sea; an uncharted, unknown, dangerous sea no less. If that was not enough for leader to deal with, the crew thought, for the most part, that he was beyond daft and were insubordinate and mutinous for most of the voyage. However, when they finally arrived, they set anchor, when ashore and kissed the ground, thanking God for this wonderful opportunity and achievement, and then bowed before their steadfast commander, the great Christopher Columbus. Many mishaps were to follow.
One such mishap was the grounding of one of the ships his expedition sailed on: The Santa Maria. The wreck was attributed to carelessness on account of the helmsman. Columbus, who was anxious to return to Europe with news of his discovery made the absolute best he could have out of the situation. He salvaged all the supplies and equipment from the vessel, and used its useless remains to establish a fort that was the citadel of the furst European colony in what would later be found to be the New World. Forty-four Europeans were left to hold this fort, so to speak, and Columbus set sail back east with two remaining ships. This is the kind of expedient thinking and fair judgement every leader should use as an example for how to handle any kind of situation that takes a turn for the worse. He did not waste his time trying to discipline the cause of the problem or punishing the entire crew. He just took what was given him and did the best he could with it in regard to his goal. Many people who are in charge of something often get caught up with errors and problems and lose sight of their goal, which will cause them to fail in the long run, even if they correct their subordinates into perfection.
Soon after Columbus put his aim back to Spain, a storm hit his fleet, separating the Niña and the Pinta. But Columbus sailed on, and eventually found himself back in the Old World on the Portuguese Isle of Santa Maria. He went ashore there and somehow could not convince the governor of Stanta Maria that he was not trying to invade Portugal. Eventually, he was allowed to leave and proceeded to the royal courts of Portugal, where he was treated with highest honor and Spain, where he was given titles of nobility for his marvelous achievements.
This portion of Christopher Columbus' voyage shows us that when the storms are fiercest, when the outlook is bleakest, when those with power over you act the most foolish, things can always get better. If you persevere, act with deftness of mind, stay respectful to your superiors and subordinates alike, and always keep your goals foremost in your mind, things can always get better. In most cases things do get better, but you do not always get rewarded with riches and honor like Columbus did. His inspiring ability to lead and his ingenuity in turning west led to his being commissioned to carry out three more voyages to the west: a total of four expeditions to what was, before him, considered to be past the end of the world.
Throughout his life, Columbus was used to working very hard, but also using his mind and apparently daydreaming about the great possibilities of the unknown. What we can learn from Christopher Columbus' life, most importantly, is that what is unknown and uncertain, while it may be hard, can always be made known and certain as long as we keep ourselves set on that goal, work to achieve it and adapt to whatever that enigma sends our way.

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