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Two days before Christmas in 1776, General George Washington sat down at his Valley Forge encampment. His weary Continental Army had just spent a season punctuated with a series of battlefield losses, and the imposing British army seemed in control of their fate.
Washington took out a pamphlet he’d just received titled The Crisis, written by Thomas Paine, and amid the falling snow he read the following words:
THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated…