As a young adult who has spent the last two years overseas, one thing I understand above all else is the nature of human resolve. Throughout history, people like us have rose up in the face of adversity to let their will be known to all; Frederick Barbarossa forming the bickering Germanic city-states into an entire Holy Roman Empire, Joan of Arc inspiring countless Frenchmen to end a hundred years war within a single generation, or the words of Martin Luther King Jr. resounding across the nation- all have changed the world.
From Ramstein to Berlin, Germany is host to fortified citadels of stone standing in lasting tribute to one man- Frederick Barbarossa. This aspiring emperor appointed his own papal system in Rome by 1168, defied the Lombard League in five separate excursions into Italy, and brought the entire western world under a single banner prior to the Third Crusade. Some consider his reign meaningless because the nations dissolved upon his death, yet the fact that the former duke’s resolve alone was what kept the Holy Roman Empire together cannot be denied.
Then we have Joan, the Maid of Orleans. Responsible for the salvation of France from a century of warfare in but a generation, Joan’s character shaped the very future of her country. This seventeen-year-old fought to end the siege of Orleans and even overcame British longbow tactics in Patay- inspiring her countrymen to fight on even after her execution and ensuing martyrdom. Such determination unified the people of France and ignited a sense of nationalism to free them from English tyranny forever- yet all driven by the resolve of a young peasant girl.
America has also seen history written in the face of overwhelming odds. Martin Luther King Junior, aspiring minister of Ebenezer Baptist Church, decided that this nation had to be free from the hatred and corruption of racial differences no matter the cost. Determined to bring that resolve to the forefront of our country, his compassion drew people of all races and colors to the steps of the Lincoln memorial, resounding in a speech that shook our great nation free from the shackles of segregation and provided equal opportunities for all.
There is no doubt each of us can connect to these people, for all I have told are the stories of a duke, a minister, and a peasant girl. Such resolve patterned through the ages lives on in all of us to fight for what we believe in, regardless of our differences. When you see the racial barriers broken, or the common man stand up for their rights; let not such resolve as this be forgotten. Let our ideals be instilled in the next generation so that we may stand united against the injustice in this world, no matter what form it may take. For to that end, I will always believe that the resolve of a single person has the ability to shape history- and change the world.
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