Stand Up and Stand Strong

It’s 1775, and the colonists are enraged over Britain’s unfair taxation. The book Give Me Liberty—a quote by Patrick Henry that sparked the American Revolution—by L.M. Elliott writes from the view of thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Dunn, who lives a difficult life as an indentured servant living in colonial Virginia. He is originally bought by a cruel blacksmith, but in a twist of fate including a runaway horse, he meets Basil. Nathaniel then begins work under Basil, who also teaches him about music and books. Whether to fight for liberty or stay low and stay safe is a difficult choice for such a young person. Nathaniel also meets new friends, including Ben, who teaches him more about liberty for the colonists. However, his old friend, Moses, is fighting for the British. As a runaway slave, his beliefs are obviously very different from Nathaniel. But at the end, Nathaniel finally learns to stand up for what he believes in, for it is the only way to achieve his dreams.

A constant theme throughout the novel is that the only way to achieve your dreams is to stand up for what you believe in. “‘Come with me?’ Ben’s voice was uncharacteristically vulnerable. ‘We could use a good man like you. Please?’ Asked like that, Nathaniel could not refuse. He couldn’t sleep anyway. Plus, he suddenly had a new interest in the colonists’ demand for liberty.” (Elliott, 246) Liberty was introduced to Nathaniel first by Ben. He, along with John and other boys, work for Edan Maguire, a slightly unstable and strict man. Ben and Nathaniel become fast friends. “The choice was simple. ‘I am going with you, then,’ Nathaniel said stoutly. ‘I want to get back at the British for Ben, too,’. He almost, almost confessed that he could bear the thought of losing Basil.” (258) Another very important person in Nathaniel’s life is Basil, his master and teacher. He cares about the old man dearly, and goes off to fight against the British not only for liberty and independence, not only for Ben, but also to look after Basil. “‘No, Moses. It’s not like that. I’m free now. I choose to fight.’ Moses crossed his arms in disgust. ‘You going to fight for people who whine for their own liberty and keep me in chains?’” (323) Nearing the end of the book, Nathaniel finally learns what he believes in and what his dreams are. Moses was an old friend of his, whom he has known for longer than Ben and Basil. But when faced with the difficult choice of choosing between his friend and his own dreams, Nathaniel ultimately selects what he believes in. It never is easy, but sometimes you do need to let go of the old to make room for the new. Saying goodbye to Moses was difficult, but Nathaniel knew it was what he needed to do. The only way Nathaniel could achieve his dreams was to stand up for what he truly believed in—liberty.

Another character whose story shared the same thing is Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America. As a scrawny kid who got beat up a good half dozen times a day, it would make sense to just stay down. But Steve never did that. The one thing he wanted was to become a soldier and fight for America in World War II, but he couldn’t due to to his asthma and various other health problems. Nonetheless, he still stood up every time he got knocked down and never gave up in what he believed in—doing the right thing. He eventually takes a super-soldier serum that makes him physically much stronger. People think that the serum was the only thing that made him strong, but that is not correct. The serum simply amplifies the what is within the taker—good becomes great, bad becomes worse. What made Captain America so strong is his sense of righteousness. Like Nathaniel, Steve also had an older, wiser person in his life that taught him many important lessons—Dr. Abraham Erksine. The person in Steve’s life closest to the role of Ben or Moses would be Bucky Barnes, his childhood best friend and who fought alongside him in the war. Like Nathaniel Dunn, Steve Rogers stood up for what he believed in. That is an important lesson to everyone.

“Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, you move’.”

-Sharon Carter quoting Peggy Carter in Captain America: Civil War

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