John Stark was a New Hampshire native and was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1728. When he was eight, his family moved to Derryfield, which is now the great city of Manchester, NH. As a young boy, he spent a lot of time in the woods, as he was an avid hunter and trapper. On one of his hunting trips near the Pemigewasset River, he was actually taken prisoner by Abenaki Indians and brought back to their homeland in Canada. Stark unarmed one of his guards and attacked a number of other guards while trying to escape. The attempt didn’t work, but the chief of the tribe was so impressed by his courage that they adopted him into the tribe. He later returned home to New Hampshire after a ransom was paid.
Stark’s military carrier was as exciting has his childhood and he is known to be one of New Hampshire’s most historical heroes. He served in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. During the American Revolution, he served in many famous battles such as the Battle Bunker Hill, Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Bennington, where his valor earned him the title, “Hero of Bennington”.
His military carrier came to an end in 1783 and he retired with a rank of Major General (two stars). He, unlike most famous generals of the Revolutionary War, went back home to New Hampshire and got out of the public line light. I can only think that he, like myself, wanted to be away from the hustle and bustle of politics and the rat race, as it existed back then.
Later in life, when Stark was 81 years old (1809), he was invited to a reunion for the Battle of Bennington veterans. Being the “hero” of the battle, his presence was mandatory. Unfortunately, he was ill and could not attend. Instead, he sent along a letter for his army buddies. In that letter, a toast was included. I can only imagine hearing it read for the first time holding up a glass:
“Live Free or Die: Death is not the Worst of Evils”
As you all know, the beginning portion of that toast became this great State’s motto. It was put in place to remind people how valuable freedom is, and that in order to truly live, freedom is essential. Without freedom, the wonderful things that we all enjoy and take for granted everyday like hiking with our family and friends, being able to enjoy the wonderful views from atop Mount Chocorua or just reading nature blogs may not be possible.
Today is Election Day. I urge all my readers to go out to the polls and vote, no matter how long the lines are. It’s our duty as American citizens to preserve this freedom for our younger generation. Happy Election Day everyone, from Live Free and Hike!