These are just a few of my compositions and stuff I've written this school year. If you're interested, feel free to read them. If not, don't waste your time! If you notice that some of them have underlined or italicized bits, those are from a writing class I did a few years back--we had to underline the "dress-ups" in our assignments. There might also be a few typos; you have been fairly warned!

Batter Up

Excitement runs all through me as the pitcher cries, "Batter up!"
I grab my bat and saunter to the plate.
I squint under the glare of the sun and turn my focus to the field.
The fielders are the predators; I am the prey.
Everyone on this softball diamond is hungry for that ball.
The pitcher holds the coveted object and flings it towards me.
I focus on the ball and prepare myself for the swing.
As my bat moves through the air, I savor the eerie silence as everyone holds their breath.
We all wait for the sweet sound of connection, ball on bat, our cue to spring into action.
A swing and a miss.
I shake it off and tell myself that I'm not through here yet.
Again the pitcher shows the ball, then releases it.
I swing again, and everyone waits for the beautifully dissonant sound of ball on bat.
It never comes. Two strikes.
My last chance to redeem myself has come, and I'm scared to death.
The ball arcs gracefully through the air.
I close my eyes and swing, praying for a hit, any hit.
Again comes the terrible, incomplete feeling of a strike.
It was my moment, my time in the limelight, and I blew it.
I return to my teammates and put on my game face, but inside, I'm crushed.
The game is not yet lost, but I feel like a traitor.
We are the Mudville nine, and I am Casey.
(Third place poem)

Her Decision

She couldn't sleep that night,
The day she murdered her baby.
It had seemed like the best plan.

She talked to friends and family, asking them
If she should murder her baby.
But she called it something different.

She went to the place
Where they murder babies.
It was done before she knew it.

She felt so empty
After she murdered her baby,
Because a part of her was missing.

They didn't call it murder
When she murdered her baby,
But she would soon see that it was.

She couldn't sleep that night
Because she shouldn't have murdered her baby.
But it was done.

(Didn't enter this one)

King David: A Leader After God's Own Heart
Humans need someone to lead them. People are easily confused, and sometimes they need help to see what to do and where to go. When help is needed, people should first turn to God. But sometimes human leadership is also necessary. God gives some people good leadership skills, and they are the people that should be turned to in times of need. King David had these qualities, and he was one of the greatest leaders of all time.
What made David a good leader? First, he was chosen by God to lead His people. 1 Samuel 16 tells us that when Samuel anointed David, "The spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." Another thing that made him successful was his obedience. When Saul called David in to play his harp for him, David went. He was loyal to his king and wanted to serve him. Also, David was responsible. His father had trusted him with the family's sheep. David left the king to care for the sheep he had responsibility for. David was also loyal to his God and king. He wouldn't stand for it when Goliath ridiculed God. David knew that God would protect him.
Even before he was king, David was a wise leader. When Goliath was challenging the Israelites, it was David who took the initiative to fight Goliath. He was also an honorable leader because he was humble. He could have become arrogant after he conquered Goliath, but he didn't. 1 Samuel 18:5a says, "And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him." He still respected the current king. Then, David was made captain over a thousand soldiers. 1 Samuel 18:14 says, "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him." After this verse, it says that Saul noticed this, and he was afraid of David. He knew David was a good leader, and he was probably worried for his throne- and his life. Saul decided to eliminate David, thus ending any threat to his position. Jonathan, Saul's son, loved David and helped him hide away in a cave. Saul went to find him and happened upon the very spot where David was hiding. Saul went to sleep, and David saw his chance. It would have been easy to kill Saul and be done. David's loyalty to his king stopped him and, instead, he cut off part of Saul's garment. Then his loyalty to God started tugging at his heart. He turned himself in to Saul and confessed his sin. Saul knew that David would be a good king for Israel.
Although he was a superior leader, David was not perfect. He committed sin with Bathsheba, which was, in itself, a terrible crime. He wanted her to himself, so he decided to get sneaky. Bathsheba's husband was sent to the front lines of battle to be sure that he would die. After Bathsheba's mourning was ended, David married her. God was angry at David. He had sinned, and he had to be punished. Bathsheba had a baby, but God took its life as punishment for David's sin. Every time David sinned, though, he admitted his wrong, repented, and accepted the consequences for his actions. Although an imperfect human being, David was called a man after God's own heart.
The Bible reveals to us that David was a leader endowed with God's power. Anybody with these God-given qualities- God's blessing, obedience, responsibility, and loyalty to God and king- can be a great leader. There is no such thing as a perfect leader. The sin nature of man makes it impossible. But leaders should still try to be the best they can be. With help from God, they can be the leaders people really need.
Meredith Stemen

Evolution: Fact or Fiction?

Modern science has accepted Charles Darwin's theory of evolution as a scientific fact. Because scientists say that the theory is true, it is published as truth and people believe it without question. Scientists have not yet found valid evidence to prove the theory of evolution. In fact, most recent discoveries seem to discredit it. Many people like the idea of evolution because it removes dependence on a superior being. Those who believe in evolution are ignoring the facts and believing whatever they want to.
There are several major scientific inconsistencies in the evolutionary theory. The first is found in the fossil record. If evolution really had occurred in the last twenty billion years-give or take ten million- there should be some proof in the fossil record. There are plenty of ordinary fossils, but no transitional fossils. These are the fossils of an animal that displays characteristics from the original species to the next in the evolutionary series. The lack of these fossils creates a major gap in the evolutionary theory. Another inconsistency regards the animals themselves. Each animal is equipped with the perfect tools to survive in its natural habitat. When an animal is born with with uncharacteristic traits, that animal probably will not be able to defend itself as well as it could in its untainted form. Nearly all of the transitional forms display features that are biologically impossible. Not only are they impossible biologically, they would hinder rather than help the animal. These are just two reasons that evolution is not scientifically possible. However, most evolutionists will not admit to the incredibility of the theory of evolution. If they are presented with a counter example that would disprove their belief, they simply adjust the theory so that it can dodge those contradictions temporarily.
Ultimately, many people choose to believe in evolution simply because it has found a way to explain away God. If there "just happened" to be a blob somewhere that "just happened" to form into a slightly more complex blob, that "just happened" to turn into a human over billions of years, why do people even need God? Evolution is based on chance and variations in the laws of nature. Evolutionists try to explain how all of the animals became what they are. The only way to explain it is this: God did it. However, most humans do not like to feel dependent on anyone or anything. The idea that there is an omnipotent God who could destroy everything in the blink of an eye is not a comforting thought for non-Christians. Humans, the finale of the evolutionary series, and the most advanced life form, are obviously the best. Part of evolution's popularity is the "feel-good" thinking that humans are the most complex, twenty billion years' worth of sheer nature! Surely "fearfully and wonderfully made," and "precious in His sight," is better than, "It took twenty billion years to engineer humans. We are the most complex of all life forms." Twenty billion years and look what the end result is! That's just disappointing.
Not only is evolution highly viewed by the general public, it is also being pumped into the brains of our nation's children. The majority of public schools in the United States require science curricula to incorporate evolution. Parents can rest easy knowing that Junior is being taught that his ancestors were blobs of random molecules. Several times a nationwide push has been made to teach creationism in public schools. Regardless of all the proof otherwise, evolution is still deemed the most scientifically correct and is allowed to remain in schools. Maybe this insistence that a flawed theory is correct is part of why the national education system in America is not in the state of academic excellence it could achieve.
Evidently, evolutionists do not plan to renounce their beliefs anytime soon. Evolution will continue to be presented as a scientific fact, people will continue to believe it, and the United States will continue teaching it to its public school children. Creationists and evolutionists will probably never agree on the true origin of species. Therefore, it is the job of Christians to do their best to tell the world about the true Creator. It is amazing how evolutionists can look around and honestly believe that everything came into being through chance. Just look up at the night sky! "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." (Psalm 19:1)

Meredith Stemen

there are people who are in a low point in their lives. When they feel they have hit rock bottom, they really need a caring person who wants to help them achieve better things. There are hundreds of organizations that provide assistance for the homeless and poor. Sometimes all these organizations need to do is offer a kind smile and a word of encouragement. However, there are people who need greater help. The Waterfront Rescue Mission provides all kinds of assistance for people in need, from sheltering them for a night to helping them pursue a career.
The Waterfront Rescue Mission was founded in 1949. At first, most of the people it helped were fishermen. Wasting money on alcohol pushed these men and their families into poverty. The Rescue Mission gave these fishermen a chance to sleep in a warm bed with a full belly. Those who took advantage of the hospitality were also given the Gospel. In this way, the Rescue Mission wasn't just giving them a bed for the night; it was giving them hope for the future through Jesus Christ.
The Waterfront Rescue Mission is now a full rescue and recovery center. According to its mission statement, the Rescue Mission's goal is to "demonstrate God's goodness by providing rescue and recovery services in Jesus' name." God has blessed the ministry greatly, enabling it to open several shelters from Mobile, Alabama to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The mission also provides counseling, drug and alcohol recovery programs, and career development programs. In 2009, it was able to serve over 150,000 meals to those in need.
There are several ways to help the Waterfront Rescue Mission and other non-profit organizations. The first is to volunteer. Shelters need people to cook, clean, and do other housekeeping jobs in its facilities. Donations are also always needed. Money is used to purchase Bibles and necessities for the shelters. For under twenty-five dollars, ten meals are provided for people in need. Used items can also be donated to one of the six Waterfront Bargain Centers. Another way to help is to shop at these Bargain Centers. All proceeds from sales at these stores go to help the Rescue Mission. One of the easiest ways to help the Rescue Mission is to pray. Some of the residents of the Mission have hardened their hearts toward God. This ministry needs prayer for the people it ministers to. It also needs prayer that God will provide its needs and allow it to continue expanding its great ministry.
Countless lives have been touched through the Waterfront Rescue Mission. Many people have been led to Christ through its daily services. It is the job of the community to make sure that non-profit organizations like Waterfront Rescue Mission stay open. Don't neglect to volunteer, donate, shop, or pray for the Waterfront- just support it, one way or another. Even a small contribution may help put someone on the road to a new life!

Meredith Stemen

Dominion Over the Creatures
God created earth as a perfect place to sustain life. It has been placed exactly the right distance from the sun to keep it at the right temperature. All of earth's cycles work like clockwork and keep the planet running. Still, deliberately mistreating our planet can cause things to go wrong. We should be careful about respecting our planet, but not become so obsessed with it that we "worship" it. In numerous places, the Bible instructs man to respect nature. However, God put plants and animals on earth for man's use.
Since God has given the earth to us to provide for our needs, we are supposed to respect God's creation. He told us in Genesis that every living thing is to be meat for us, but He expects us to use the brain He gave us. That means no eating anything that will harm you or any humans. God won't stand for violation of His rules. When we disobey them, we will be punished. God promises that punishment will come for our actions.
Ultimately, God gave man authority over the animals and plants on earth. "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." (Psalm 8:6-8) God gave us dominion over every plant and animal. Luke 12:48 says, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." We are to provide an opportunity for animals to live safely in their natural habitat. We are allowed to use plants for food and other purposes as well. "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." (Gen. 1:29) God has provided an abundance of food for the inhabitants of earth. It's unlikely that anyone would have to be on welfare if people still went out to forage for food!
So what's the balance between respect for God's creation and our dominion over the creatures? God gave us plants and animals for food. We shouldn't use much more than we need or be wasteful. Animals should not be killed simply for sport. We should follow God's example of authority and exercise mercy towards our inferiors. We also need to remember to be civil. God created man to be over animals. He gave us a mind, a conscience, and a tender heart. We can think and feel to discern if something is wrong.
Plants and animals were created for man to use. Obviously doing barbaric things to our planet is a bad idea, but we also don't need to be obsessed with its well-being. God created the earth to survive with minimal care. "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." (Gen. 9:3)
Meredith Stemen

Thoughts of Peace
The human mind is an amazing thing. It is unlikely that people will ever understand the full capabilities of the mind. Although scientists have learned a lot about how the mind works, psychology (the study of the mind) gets especially complicated when people try to explain why the human mind works the way it does. God created a supercomputer so complex that it controls our whole body, and yet it is so small that it fits into a human skull! Learning as much as possible about the human body and all of its functions and processes is a good idea so people can better take care of themselves. Psychologists have learned a massive amount about the mind and still have only scratched the surface of the vast information about the mind. While psychology is not necessarily a bad thing, when people turn to secular psychologists for help instead of God, there is a problem.
Psychoanalysis is a branch of psychology. A psychoanalyst observes the mind's responses to certain triggers and attempts to explain why the mind responds as it does. The material causing a certain reaction when triggered is then brought from the unconscious to the conscious. In this way, the patient becomes aware of why he has certain responses to specific stimuli. For example, a person may wonder why he feels a sudden sense of anxiety whenever he sees a dog. When he visits a psychoanalyst, the analyst will perform a series of tests to try to understand why the mind reacts as it does. He will attempt to bring the unconscious information to the conscious realm of the mind. The patient may leave knowing that he becomes anxious when he sees dogs because his best friend was attacked by a dog and severely injured when the patient was a young child.
When used correctly, psychoanalysis can be a very helpful process; however, the well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud twisted psychoanalysis so drastically that his use of it caused inaccurate results. He invented several new methods for psychoanalysis that he thought were very effective. Freud's methods were flawed, however, often causing patients to bring back fictitious memories. For example, a woman is afraid of men with sideburns. Using a Freudian method, she may come to believe that she fears men with sideburns because her abusive father had sideburns, when in reality, her father never raised a hand against her. Rather, she is afraid because she saw a frightening picture of a man with sideburns when she was a child. The faulty results of her psychoanalysis may cause her to have unfounded feelings of bitterness towards her father for an offense that never happened.
Despite its many faults, psychoanalysis is still practiced today. Since Freud's time, though, scientists have gained a far greater understanding of the mind, and many of Freud's methods have been found so ineffective that his psychoanalysis has been called "pseudo-science"- a method with no scientific basis. Although Freud's methods were definitely questionable, and even downright ridiculous, not all psychoanalytic methods are as ineffective as Freudian methods of psychoanalysis. They can be very successful and help a patient address difficult issues in his life.
Still, no matter how drastic the change from psychoanalysis may be, the only "permanent fix" is relying on Jesus Christ to get us through tough times. The Bible tells us to trust God in all things. Is visiting a psychologist going against that command? Christians should follow the prophet Nehemiah's example. When rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was faced with many problems. Nehemiah responded to trouble by asking God for guidance and protection, then doing what he felt God wanted him to. We should ask God to help us, then take practical, physical action.
Psychology is a wonderful, helpful branch of the medical field. Like all things, it must be used with moderation. A psychoanalyst can help someone work through his mental problems, but when people depend on psychology and forget God, psychology gets out of hand. God provides wonderful refuge and strength, and help in time of trouble. Ultimately, when people have trouble, they should turn to God, then do what they feel God wants for them, using God's Word as a guide. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Meredith Stemen

The two main religions in Europe in 1611 were Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. These religions were very different, and the root of many of their differences was their view of Scripture. Most Protestant beliefs can be backed up by Scripture passages, while most Catholic beliefs come only from their own traditions, and are seldom supported by Scripture. The Protestants believed that the Bible is the sole source of God's words to us, and that the Bible is the standard for Christian living. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in righteousness."
Another difference between the two is their opinion on who is the head of the church. Catholics believe that the Pope is the supreme spiritual authority, and his words are infallible. Protestants believe that Christ is the head of the church, and that no human is infallible.
"Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Eph. 4:15
Catholics also believe that only the leaders of their church can properly interpret the Bible, while Protestants believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in believers and helps them understand and interpret the Scriptures themselves. "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." John 14:17
Salvation is also a disputed issue. The Catholics believe that they must supplement the righteousness of Jesus with meritorious works to get to Heaven. Protestants believe that in his death on the cross, Jesus alone paid their sin debt. Catholics believe in a place of temporary punishment called Purgatory; they would go here to pay off any debt not paid by their good works before going to Heaven. Protestants believe that good works are commendable, but they are not necessary to get to Heaven. If the Catholics were right, why did Jesus tell the thief on the cross that, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise," if he would have to wait in Purgatory till his monumental sin debt was paid?
Catholics and Protestants did not get along. King Philip loathed Luther and Calvin merely because they were not Catholics. Philip dubbed them heretics.
There are others, but these are a few ways that these two religions are so different.

Land of long, lovely seashores
With white, wave-washed sand.
Looming forests of pines,
Maples, and oaks.
Mysterious mountains topped
With glistening snow.
Running rivers singing
An everlasting song of joy.
Golden-brown plains that surely
Will never end.
Land of
Wonderful people who bless others with
Small acts of kindness.
Courageous people, who stand up
For what they believe.
Land of the free and the brave.
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

Trust and Teamwork
by Meredith

A small wagon bumped along a rustic dirt path. The older children in the wagon, Amy, Tom, and Zach Taylor tried to keep from being burdens. This trip would be hard enough already. Their parents, John and Maria Taylor, sat closer to the front of the wagon, ahead of all of their possessions. Maria cradled a baby boy in her arms, Micah was his name. His twin sister Lydia rested quietly in a bundle of blankets, watched carefully by Amy. They had left their home in Virginia to move to Kentucky, where their father was sure they would have, "a better life." Amy was dubious. Wasn't their old life fine as it was? They had a modest home and they were well respected. Why should they abandon their friends back home? It all seemed pointless to Amy, but she tried to look on the bright side, because Daddy was so excited about their new home. This was what Amy was pondering as she peeked at her baby sister. Just then, the wagon jerked to a stop. "Okay, everyone," her mother said much more cheerily than she felt, "Time for lunch!" The children slowly and uncomfortably unfolded their legs and stepped warily out of the wagon, not quite used to standing up again. The boys instantly dashed for the woods to take care of business, but Amy stayed back to watch the babies while Mrs. Taylor spread out their lunch. Soon the boys were back and Mr. Taylor blessed the food with his family gathered around him. Then they sat down and started to eat. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and Amy were somewhat tired after they had eaten, so they rested for a time while the boys ran races. Soon, though they were off again. They had to get to Kentucky before winter, as trying to travel in the snow would surely prove fatal to the babies, not to mention the rest of the family. The rest of the day was much like any other. The children in the back were bored and tried in vain to amuse themselves with silly games. They bumped along, uncomfortable, hot, and unable even to sleep. And now, they were dirty on top of it all. They had not come across water for days now. But Mr. Taylor assured them that they were quite near the Ohio River. It was strange that he didn't seem excited about it, but Amy brushed it off. She had far greater things to worry about, like picking that disgusting dirt from under her fingernails. As they set their 'camp' for the night, Mr. Taylor told his family that they would likely reach the Ohio tomorrow. Amy went to sleep with a smile on her face and had the most pleasant dreams she had had in a long time.

The next morning, the whole family was up early, the whisper of excitement giving them the extra boost they needed to speed things up a bit. Even the horses seemed eager to get going. The family was on their way almost an hour earlier than usual. The children were right behind their parents, looking for the first glimpse of the Ohio. All wanted to be the first to see it. It was Zach who spotted it first, though. He was twirling a piece of his curly blond hair round and round his finger when he saw some foaming blue water. He released the strand and sat up quickly. "I see it!" he shouted. The rest of the family strained their necks and soon saw it too. Mr. Taylor urged the horses on faster, and the horses cordially obliged. But as the wagon grew nearer, Amy saw why her father wasn't excited to get there. The river was roaring down its course, mean as a grizzly bear and loud as a cyclone. The wagon pulled up on the bank and the family piled out. They all just stared at the water tearing down its way. Mr. Taylor declared that they would wait til the next day, may as well be as rested as they could be. That night the family went to sleep to the sound of the raging river. When Amy woke up, Mr. And Mrs. Taylor were already awake, speaking quietly. Amy decided to uphold their privacy and leave them alone. In an hour, everyone was up and washed, thanks to the river, and ready to face the challenge. Mr. Taylor told everyone they would need to get in the wagon and not get out unless he told them. Then, with Mrs. Taylor clutching Micah and Lydia closely to her, he climbed up into the wagon and gripped the reins with knuckles white as snow. Then he prodded the horses onward into the river. The horses were all right at first, but as the river came up to their shoulders, they became skittish. Mr. Taylor realized that he would have to go out and lead them. He turned back to his family and told them what he was going to do.Mrs. Taylor looked at him disapprovingly but kept silent. He slipped over the edge of the wagon and was gone. For a moment, the wagon was still and the family wondered if their father had been killed instantly. But just as they were about to send Tom to look over the side, the wagon gave a tremendous groan and started to move forward quickly. Before the wagon was out of the river, they saw Mr. Taylor stagger onto the river bank, clutching the horses' reins. Soon they joined him on land. They hadn't realized in their fear how wet and cold they were. They started a fire and dried themselves around it. They had wasted enough time here, and were off soon. From now on, the rest of their journey was easy.

I would love to go into excruciating detail about the rest of their journey, but sadly, if I so chose, we would be here forever listening to boring descriptions of grass. So, I will instead tell you this. The family saw their first glimpse of their new home and were filled with hope. Amy thought that maybe this would be a better life after all. As they unloaded their belongings and started about building a temporary shelter, they all looked back on their trip and were amazed at what they had overcome. This same kind of trust and teamwork would build a great life for the Taylors in their new home in Kentucky.

Native Americans
Their hair flies around their anxious faces.
Dark eyes flank sharp noses.
They whisper amongst themselves,
Wondering who these strange pale men are.
They carefully creeping closer.
Their hands find their weapons,
Preparing for whatever may come next.
Their feet, cocooned in warm moccasins,
Are completely silent as they tiptoe softly to greet the strangers.
They have never observed men like this.
They remember that they came flying across the water
In strange, white-winged birds.
They wonder what will happen at the hand
Of these strangers.
                                               They are Native Americans. 

The First Thanksgiving-A Five-Senses Poem
I woke up that morning and felt the crisp air.
I eyed the blue sky and the sun shining bright.
A cardinal flew by the window,
Screaming, Chip, Chip!
Wonderful smells flowed from each house.
Pies, meat, bread, and more.
I watched my mother bustle around.
Bread, pies, and even a turkey covered our table.
Mother saw me awake and asked me
To start carrying them to the makeshift tables 
Out in the town common.
I picked up the savory bird.
I slipped out the door
To the wonderful day.
People were everywhere.
How wonderful it was to see
Indians and Pilgrims as friends.
Something about the day
Made people friendlier.
Everyone said how delicious everything looked and smelled.
Berries, deer, turkey, corn,
Bread, eels, clams, and more.
Each of my trips added to the abundant feast.
This day was perfect.
It was our Thanksgiving Day.

Rewarded with Freedom
America fought long and hard for independence from Britain. In the years before the Declaration of Independence was written, Britain and America were fighting with each other. Sadly, few Americans were for independence; most were still loyal to King George. More and more problems occurred between America and Britain. King George was imposing unreasonable taxes on the colonists, and they could not really do anything about it. They had no representation in Parliament, which they felt was a violation of their rights. The colonists finally chose to refuse to buy the taxed goods. They even dumped the cargo of three tea ships into the harbor.

What a fragrant turning point! King George didn't like that at all; in fact, he was so displeased with the colonists' "Tea Party" that he sent scarlet-clad troops to punish them. These troops were sent to enforce the Townshend Acts, which stated that the colonists had to pay their taxes, basically. Tension grew. In America, soldier-colonist clashes became more and more common. Clearly, something had to be done. The Americans felt that they had no choice but to declare freedom.

So it was decided to write an influential document. Thomas Jefferson, a fiery young man from Virginia was picked to compose the document. Deliberately, he chose words. For eighteen days, he labored over this important task. At last, on June 28, 1776, he penned these words, "...with afirm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor." Upon submission to Congress, the Declaration was subject to their corrections. Jefferson was not considered an excellent speaker, but his talent as a writer became self-evident after the Declaration was read. King George, who, of course, ignored the Declaration itself, sent more troops, and eventually, a full fledged war was on. The fight was long and hard, but the colonists' efforts were rewarded with their freedom.

Sergeant Molly

by Meredith Stemen

Little Mary Ludwig dragged the milking stool over to one of the family's cows. As she milked, she daydreamed about being courageous. The cow flicked its tail, interrupting her daydream. She sighed. She was too small and fragile to do anything truly courageous. She focused on the streams of milk shooting into the pail, forgetting about her fantasy. But weak little girls grow up to be strong women. The little girl intently milking a cow would later be best known for her courage and perseverance.

Women were not usually highly respected in the 1700's, but Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, or “Molly Pitcher,” proved that women can do great things too. Records of her early life are vague; however, the event that made her famous occurred in her mid to late twenties or early thirties. It was during the Battle of Monmouth that she earned her nicknames. I say nicknames because she had two or three. There was of course Molly, but that was a common nickname for young women named Mary. She was sometimes called Sergeant Molly, or General Molly. Likely her most famous nickname was Molly Pitcher. You'll find out how she got it later. After some time had passed, the colonists probably got bored with her and adopted a new hero or heroine. Later on in life, Mary's husband died and she married a Revolutionary War veteran. Sadly, this man left her after a relatively short marriage. But this spunky woman didn't let it get her down. She kept on going and went on with her life, something we all should learn to do. No matter what other people do or say about her, Mary McCauley was a remarkable woman.

There is no way to be entirely sure when exactly Mary Ludwig was born, but her birth date is estimated around October 13, 1754. She grew up helping on her parents' dairy farm with three brothers. When she was fifteen, she traveled over 100 miles for a job. She didn't like having to be so far away from her family, but she could send money home, so she sacrificed for them. She worked in the home of the Irvine family, and soon met a barber; William Hays. They were married July 24, 1769. Mary continued to work at the Irvines' for several years after their marriage. William enlisted in the army soon, and was stationed at Valley Forge. Mary joined the 'camp followers', a group of women led by Martha Washington who helped with the soldiers' basic needs, like clothes, food, and medical help. In the spring of 1778, William was trained as an artilleryman. He quickly learned how to operate the cumbersome guns. Mary served, among others, as a water girl, carrying water to the soldiers whenever they cried, “Molly! Pitcher!”(Molly was a common nickname for Mary) This is possibly how Mary got her nickname, Molly Pitcher.

Mary is probably best known for her service at the Battle of Monmouth. She was a water girl, which was an important job as the day was scorchingly hot. Many times she hurried to bring a refreshing sip through heavy fire. She was standing at a safe distance, waiting for that familiar call, “Molly! Pitcher!” when she saw her husband collapse at the cannon. While we can speculate, the cause of his collapse is not know for sure; however, it is likely that his tumble was caused by either heat or wound, or both. Mary hurried to take his place, loading the cannon and firing as well as any man. At one point, a British cannon or musket shot flew through her skirt, ripping off the hem area. Supposedly she shrugged and stated, “Could've been worse.” and returned to her cannon. Soon the battle was over for the night, and Mary was called in to see George Washington, who had inquired about her. She was awarded an honorary officership and was henceforth called Sergeant Molly.

Upon return home, Mary and William had a son, John. Soon after, William died, and Mary married a Revolutionary War veteran, John McCauley. McCauley was known to have a short temper, and disappeared about fifteen years into their marriage. Mary could often be seen strutting around town in a striped skirt and mob cap. She was well-liked amongst the townsfolk. The only thing they didn't like about her was that she “often cursed like a soldier.” “Sergeant Molly” died January 22, 1832. She was buried under the name Mollie McCauley. A statue of Molly Pitcher stands in the graveyard so that we will never forget this woman's bravery and love for her country.

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley didn't live a long time or do anything truly extraordinary like George Washington did, but she will always be remembered as a little woman with a big name who was willing to do small things to help her country triumph over England. She proved also that even a seemingly unimportant woman can do remarkable things.

Although she didn't have a life of sunshine and roses, as Molly Pitcher said at the Battle of Monmouth, “ Could've been worse.”

Goyahkla, or "one who yawns," was born June 16, 1829. His grandfather was chief of the Bedonkohe Apache. After his father died, his mother took him to live with the Chihenne, where he grew up. When he was 17, he was married and had three children. Then, an attack of 400 Mexican soldiers led by Colonel José Carrasco ambushed their camp. Goyahkla's wife, children, and mother were killed in the raid, along with many others. The chief of his tribe sent him away to plot revenge. It was in one of the battles he fought that he got his nickname. He charged out through a torrent of gunfire and stabbing the Mexican soldiers, who were so shocked that they called out to St. Jerome, "Jeronimo!" and Goyahkla had a new nickname. Geronimo was at the head of many Apache ambushes on Spanish settlements. Soon the ambushes on vilages and settlements became so numerous that the Mexican people lived in constant fear. The Apache raids were very violent, definitely something worthy of the Mexicans' fear.

Geronimo was never a chief, but he was a great military leader. His people believed him to have "powers," such as leaving no prints when he walked and being able to withstand gunfire. Some may have truly thought he was unable to die from being shot as he was wounded many times in battle and always recovered. The Apache were so steadfast in their beilief f his "powers" that they followed him willingly. Geronimo strongly encouraged warriors to raid Mexican villages and, later, American land from Arizona to Texas. He was also a polygamist. He had many wives, easily giving up one who passed away or was captured. The U.S searched for Geronimo diligently, but in vain. Some of his escapes seem humanly impossible. Legend says that in the Robledo Mountains in New Mexico, Geronimo was, supposedly, trapped in a cave, the mouth surrounded by US soldiers. The soldiers waited and waited, but Geronimo never emerged. Then they received word that he had been spotted elsewhere, away from the cave. This is especially mind-boggling because another way out has never been found. Upon end of his military career, Geronimo led a small band of Native American men, women, and children. He became a nuisance to the United States, earning himself the title, "the worst Indian who ever lived."

He managed to elude the military until 1886, when he was captured on a command to return him to the United States, dead or alive. While it is not entirely sure, many accounts including Geronimo's own words, say that a Lt. Gatewood is responsible for his capture. Geronimo lauded the group of soldiers for thinking to wear down the small band of Apache with nonstop tracking. The Apaches rarely had a chance to rest for more than a day. By the time they were caught, the Apaches were tired and Geronimo surrendered rather than risk his whole group. Geronimo was sent to be held as a POW at Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida, while his family was sent to Fort Marion in Saint Augustine, Florida. He didn't see them again until May of 1887 when they were transferred to the Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama until 1894. Then they were moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. For an outlaw, Geronima was very popular. He was shown off at fairs, even the World's Fair in St. Louis. There he enjoyed riding on the Ferris Wheel and sold souvenir photographs of himself. He even rode in Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade. He told his story to S.M. Barrett, Superintendent of Education in Lawton, Oklahoma, and the book was edited and published in 1906.

Geronimo died February 17, 1909 of pneumonia after being thrown from his horse and having to lie in the snow all night. He told his nephew on his deathbed that he regretted his decision to surrender. He had never returned to his home land since his capture. He was buried at Fort Sill in the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery. He had made such an impact on Mexicans and Americans that he is still well-known today. He was 79 years old when he died.


  1. Sarah Me =)2/1/12 8:47 PM

    This is so cool! You are a really good writer Meredith! :D I really like the story about the wagon trip to Kentucky and all your poems are really good too!! Great job! :)

  2. I like how you're sharing your writings. I love to read, especially when it's something educational. :) Very nice.