His name was Nate. He was a school teacher. At only 19 years old, he had already finished all of his education. He had a full and adventurous life in front of him, the world was at his feet. Those who knew Nate said that he was kind, gentle, athletic, intelligent, a godly young man. Nate had everything.
And then came the war. There was no draft, no requirement, an all volunteer army, nothing to force him, nothing to get Nate off his track, except one thing -DUTY. Nate felt a strong sense of duty. So, Nate joined up to fight. And he became one of the first in our America to feel that duty, that great yearning for freedom, for peace, and the willingness to put his very life on the line to serve, to fight, to protect.
And just where do all of our “Nates” come from? They are school teachers, factory workers, bankers, accountants, nurses, farmers, they come from all walks of life – but they have this one thing in common – “They love America”. It was patriot Daniel Webster who said “when it comes to our feeling for our nation, our love for America, let our object be our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And by the blessings of God, may our country become a vast and splendid monument. Not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of peace, and of liberty upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever”. And that’s the feeling we should all have for our nation, America.
So just what became of our school teacher, Nate? Our young American patriot who felt the call of duty? This young man who had everything going for him, his future and the world at his feet – what happened to Nate? He joined in the cause for freedom. Not long after joining he was moved to the rank of 1st Lieutenant of his 7th Connecticut regiment. Then, when his commanding officer formed an elite group of Rangers, now 21 year old Nate volunteered.
But what was really needed was a brave volunteer to act as a spy, to go behind enemy lines, to get certain information crucial to an American victory. And, once again, the call of duty, and, once again, Nate answered the call. Even though a captured spy would see certain and immediate death; there would be no trial, no board or jury, nothing but an immediate hanging – but Nate answered the call. He slipped behind enemy lines, and disguised as a school teacher looking for work, he set out to gather the information needed by his commander.
He got the needed information, and with information in hand, on September 21, 1776, Nate attempted to cross back out of enemy territory and, somehow, he was found out, arrested, and, yes, sentenced to hang the very next day.
That next day, September 22, 1776, this young 21 year old patriot, Nate, Nathan Hale, stood on the gallows ready to be hanged. Those in attendance later testified saying “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good soldier to obey the orders given by his commander in chief . He exhorted the spectators there to at all times be prepared to meet death in whatever shape it may appear”.
Nathan Hale’s final words before hanging? “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”. Then Nathan Hale was hanged. His body was left hanging for several days near the site of his execution for all to see; later, he was buried in an unmarked grave. It was reported that George Washington, his commander in chief, when he heard the news of this brave young man’s death – George Washington wept.
And there you have it – a seemingly insignificant school teacher, never wrote anything important, never owned any property, never had a permanent job, never married, never had children, and failed in his last mission. But yet he is remembered – why? Duty. Duty. And today each of us has a duty.
Today, this day, what will you do with your own Duty?
About Jerry Stewart
I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us. To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old. So, here’s where the stories have taken me. In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State. Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.