- Americans are creative when tackling problems. When asked what he most admired about Americans, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said, "I like the creativity, when it comes to your tackling problems. Their openness - openness and open-mindedness - because it allows them to unleash the inner potential of their people. And thanks to that, America has attained such amazing results in developing their country." (CBS Reporter Charlie Rose, CBS This Morning, September 22, 2015; and 60 Minutes interview, September 27, 2015)
- Forged in Iron - Sometimes life’s most difficult problems can be solved in the most unexpected ways. In fact, even when a situation seems downright hopeless, a little resourcefulness and ingenuity can lead to surprising solutions.
This truth was illustrated in dramatic fashion during the American Revolution, when a fledgling nation struggled to assert its independence against one of the great military powers of the time. What the American soldiers lacked in training and resources they made up for with determined ingenuity.
One great example of that ingenuity took place near what is now the campus of West Point Military Academy. During the Revolutionary War, this bend in the Hudson River became a key point of defense. The revolutionaries knew that if they could defend the river, they could defend themselves. So to prevent enemy ships from passing, they blocked the waterway with every obstacle they could think of: logs, fire rafts, and even sunken vessels, but nothing worked for long.
The revolutionaries didn’t have a lot of resources, but it just so happened that only a few miles from West Point was one of the largest iron deposits in the world. They determined to use that iron to make a massive chain and stretch it from bank to bank to make the river impassable. Their first attempt failed, but at the insistence of General George Washington, they tried again, with a second chain that was even bigger and stronger than the first. In a manufacturing feat that would be remarkable even by today’s standards, they built a 500-yard chain in six short weeks. Each link was two to three inches thick and two to three feet long. Men worked on seven forges and ten welding fires around the clock to complete the 180-ton chain and place it underwater. The huge chain held and effectively blocked passage on the Hudson River for the rest of the war.1 Now memorialized on West Point’s lawn, a piece of the chain reminds us of the ingenuity and determination of those early patriots.
It is also a reminder that when we have our own waterways to defend, when we face our own insurmountable odds, we can find safety and strength in doing our best with what we have, in working with resourcefulness and ingenuity to find solutions to our most difficult problems.
(Sources: 1.See Kenneth L. Alford, “‘Delivered by the Power of God’: Nephi’s Vision of America’s Birth,” in The Things Which My Father Saw: Approaches to Lehi’s Dream and Nephi’s Vision, ed. Daniel Belnap and others (2011), 273–75; Music & The Spoken Word, September 6, 2015)
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