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SENTRY JOURNAL » abigail adams, air force, American Revolution, eye of the storm, john adams, nicole white, pararescue, sacrifice » Country First

Country First

by RightHandMan
I’ve copied the following post from the blog of an old friend that went to my church when I was younger. Her name is Nicole White and she writes a blog named “Eye of the Storm“. Nicole is the wife of an Air Force Pararescueman (PJ) – the best of the best in the Special Forces. He’s gone a lot! Amazingly, her brother is also a PJ. These guys are constantly in the middle of very dangerous areas and scenarios. They put their lives in danger often and too many times they lose them. Their sacrifice is great, but the sacrifice of their loved ones is just as great.

Nicole’s blog is centered on PJ’s and is mainly apolitical. Her latest post, however, is important and has a great tie back to John and Abigail Adams and their sacrifice. Nicole uses their patriotic sacrifice to help cope with her own and inspire her to continue. The rest of this post is hers.

“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.”
– John Adams

Reading the 700+ page biography, John Adams, by David McCullough, has caused me both consternation and incredible awe over a man, or rather a couple, that aught to be revered more. Yes, he was the second president of the United States and yes, he was an influential founding father. Beyond these two vague and loosely thrown around terms, however, stands a man whose devotion to his country bordered on the superhuman. In an age where travel was limited to mainly horse or boat, Adams journeyed more than 29,000 miles in the service of his country. He crossed the Atlantic four times, traveled thousands of miles in France, Spain, the Netherlands, and England and spent nearly 10 consecutive years away from his beloved homeland in the quest for securing peace, prosperity and independence for the brand new United States of America. That his dedication was perhaps one of the most driving forces behind the fledgling America’s bid for freedom and independence is a fact few would argue. It was his devotion, though, in the face of all odds and at the price of long separations from his “dearest friend” Abigail that I doubt many today fully appreciate.

I hear myself complaining about what is asked of my husband (and us as a couple) by the military way more than I am proud to admit. The incredible intensity, focus, and time this latest six-month training program has demanded of Bo has had me at my wits end more than once as I struggle to give him the space he needs and the freedom to put “us” totally on the back burner. Every success he’s had in this program and every hurdle he’s jumped has been a victory for both of us, and I have really really tried – in both word and deed – to support him unconditionally. I have to admit, though, my brave face has seen its share of ups and downs, and I’m afraid the “strong, independent” woman Bo thought he married has become an emotional, needy basket case on more than one occasion.

It is during these past few months that I have read about Abigail Adams and can’t help but feel ashamed of my own weakness and more than a little baffled at her fortitude of spirit and support of her husband in the face of incredible personal sacrifice. Theirs was a match of equal intellects and passions. John described their connection as “steel to a magnet” and for the entirety of their long marriage would rely upon her for not only encouragement, but her advice and opinions on the large looming matters of the day – the American Revolution and subsequent forming of a republic. Abigail understood and loved her husband all the more for his inability to stay quiet on such matters or stay home when there was so much work to be done.

“You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you, an inactive spectator . . . We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them,” she wrote.

She also saw, as did her husband, the need to completely break away from England even when many continued to hope for peaceful compromise with the mother country. She wrote to John while he was in Philadelphia at the Continental Congress, “A people may let a King fall, yet still remain a people, but if a King let his people slip from him, he is no longer a King. And as this is most certainly our case, why not proclaim to the world in decisive terms our own importance?”

“I think you shine as a stateswoman,” he responded proudly, calling her his “choicest blessing.” Although apart for years at a time, their correspondence leaves little doubt as to how much they relied on each other and respected each other.

Abigail and John’s time apart was frequent and always uncertain in length. Once, home from the Continental Congress for just a few short months, Adams left again, this time leaving Abigail pregnant. He was gone nearly a year this time as Abigail went through her entire pregnancy and delivered a still-born baby girl with only his frequent letters to give her strength. She bravely wrote to tell him the news, adding, “Tis almost 14 years since we were united, but not more than half that time we had the happiness of living together. The unfeeling world may consider it in what light they please, I consider it a sacrifice to my country and one of my greatest misfortunes.” News of his appointment as Commissioner to France came just weeks after arriving back home. Neither Abigail nor John hesitated in his acceptance of the appointment– it would be a year and half before they saw each other again. Abigail wrote to her sister, “Known only to my own heart is the sacrifice I have made and the conflict it has cost me.” After his return, Adams would be called to serve as diplomat in Europe again the following year, this time he wouldn’t see Abigail for over three years.

From lawyer and outspoken patriot to delegate to the First Continental Congress to American diplomat, Adams was instrumental in crafting the final drafts of the Declaration of Independence. He wrote the Massachusetts Constitution – one of the greatest, enduring documents of the American Revolution to this day – established the first foreign legation, was the first signer of the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War, and appeared before the King of England as the first minister of the new United States of America.

David McCullough writes, “Few Americans ever achieved so much of such value and consequence to their country in so little time. Above all, with his sense of urgency and unrelenting drive, Adams made the Declaration of Independence happen when it did. Had it come later, the course of events could have gone very differently.” Some of Adams greatest victories however came in the annals of American diplomacy through his profound and successful work in bringing to the world stage the new and independent United States of America.

Both Abigail and John Adams recognized they lived in monumental times. Their country needed them and it was never a question that they would rise to the occasion and do all they humanely could for the love and sake of that one truest of all ideals – freedom. Their willingness to sacrifice and their passionate drive to build a better country are attributes we all could use to imitate more profoundly. I don’t have either spirit or strength equal to that of Abigail Adams, but I do know that Bo and my calling to serve this country we love is infinitely greater than the little sacrifice required. Even in my weakest moments I can cling to that.


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Filed under: abigail adams, air force, American Revolution, eye of the storm, john adams, nicole white, pararescue, sacrifice

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  • Steve Dennis September 25, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    I don't know what else to say to Nicole or Bo other than to offer my thanks for their service. You are loved and admired more than you will know. We may never fully understand what you go through, but we certainly owe you a debt of gratitude that we can never repay.
    Thank you!

  • John Carey September 25, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    That was an excellent post by Nicole Right. It means a great deal that you shared it with us. I salute her and her husband for their unconditional service to this nation. I thank them both.