On the evening of December 25th, 1776, George Washington led a ragtag Continental Army across the Delaware River and along the shores of New Jersey in a surprise attack on the British just outside of Trenton. Facing treacherous waters, terrible weather conditions and diminishing rations, Washington’s problems were many. His demoralized and exhausted army had been forced to retreat into Pennsylvania of all places, which according to Vice-President Elect Joe Biden is: “an awful, awful, sad place, filled with sad desperate people with no ambition. Nobody, and I mean nobody, but me has ever come out of that place. It's a genetic cesspool.” And if that’s not bad enough, none of them had shoes! Can you imagine – walking through a genetic cesspool without shoes!
Yet, I digress. Washington’s army eventually won another victory, defeating the British in Princeton, NJ. News of this victory spread rapidly, reinvigorating the falling spirit of the Revolution. These victories helped gather colonial support, shocked the British and convinced future allies that the Continental Army was a force to be reckoned with!
Now many of you are probably saying to yourself: “Of course I know the history of Washington crossing the Delaware. I’m American. I’ve seen the painting a thousand times. I was born genetically programmed to know all historic American events.” Of course you were; I do not question your knowledge of American history. Instead, I would like to open your eyes to the significance of this event and how it relates to Seton Hall’s game tomorrow against the Delaware Blue Hens.
Let us start from the beginning. George Washington’s army had been forced to retreat, first from Long Island and then from Manhattan, all the way to Pennsylvania. Sound familiar? Wasn’t Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez in a way “forced to retreat” from Manhattan and cross a river into a neighboring state?
Washington’s army has often been described by historians as a “ragtag” group of soldiers. Does a team of eight scholarship players with limited resources relying on little more than heart, will and determination qualify as a “ragtag” group of players? You bet.
With the British securely holding New Jersey and Rhode Island, they thought the Continental Army could be swatted into oblivion and the Revolution would therefore once and for all be quelled. Isn't that a bit like the arrogance of PAC 10 and ACC powerhouses USC and Virginia Tech as they prepared to play undersized and outnumbered Seton Hall? Maybe.
The news of Washington’s victory over the British in Trenton and Princeton galvanized colonial support and convinced the world that the Continental Army was a force to be reckoned with. Similarly, Seton Hall’s early victories over top notch competition have helped garner support for a program that was all but written off this year. Let us only hope that this support continues for the rest of the season.
In the face of this mini history lesson, we can only hope that we have learned from Kurt Vonnegut’s famous quote, “History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.” History is set to repeat itself and it is the foolish who do not grow wiser from history. Let us hope that after leaving Manhattan, crossing a treacherous river, and guiding an inspired, yet weary, ragtag group of players, Bobby G. has learned his lesson…
Protect your state from those crossing the Delaware!!!