A handful of days ago, I had the good fortune of coming across this link from the wonderful website brainpickings.org, which discusses a letter than author Sherwood Anderson sent to his son.
(I came across this link via Twitter, because I decided to follow @BrainPicker a couple weeks back, a decision that has proven to be far more educational and illuminating than I’d ever imagined. I urge you to follow that account as well.)
This particular Brain Pickings article was excerpting from the book Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children. I loved the parts of Anderson’s letter shared in the blog post so much that I immediately went and ordered the book. It arrived yesterday, and I’ve decided to use it as inspiration for what should be a fun daily exercise.
Every day when I arrive at the office, I am going to read one of the letters before getting started with my day’s activities. Then I’ll write a short blurb here at Primility highlighting whatever nuggets of knowledge I’ve learned.
What could be a better way to set the tone for a productive day than reading the wise words of some of the most influential Americans who have ever lived? I can’t think of one.
A Lesson in Gratitude from William H. Seward
The first letter in the book is from William H. Seward, a prominent mid-19th century political figure, to his nine-year old son. In the letter, Seward remarks on seeing Valley Forge and then provides his son with the historical context for why Valley Forge is such a monumentally important place in the history of our nation. He describes the hardships faced by General George Washington and his men, and how their perseverance through said hardships ultimately helped secure freedom for the United States.
How good and virtuous and just ought we to be and how thankful to God that we have blessings secured by the virtue and sufferings of our ancestors.
This is not something I stop to think about enough. It is so easy to take the freedom we enjoy here in this country for granted when it’s all I’ve known. But it hasn’t always been that way. It had to be fought for, and suffered for, and earned, and the men and women from Valley Forge were some of the earliest in the history of this nation to lay their lives on the line to give us the liberty we live with today.
My personal theme for 2013 is gratitude and appreciation – I want to feel it and show it as much as I possibly can. Reading this letter from Mr. Seward to his son reminded me that the gratitude and appreciation I should be feeling and showing extends far beyond the people just in my immediate life today and tomorrow. It extends back to those who paved the way for the life I’m fortune enough to lead today.
Indeed, how thankful we ought to be for the virtue and sufferings of our ancestors.