Borrowing the Strength and Experience of Others

Putting the “stressful” events of your life in perspective may just be a $20 bill away. No, it’s not something you can purchase with the $20, but something you can experience from looking at the gentleman on the front- Andrew Jackson.

Simple symbols or images can trigger powerful feelings and resources within us. As a United States Navy veteran, looking at the flag during the National Anthem makes the hair on my arms stand on end, and various religious symbols can initiate a strong cascade on feelings and emotions in those who practice a particular faith.

The image of Andrew Jackson that is found on the twenty dollar bill can trigger a similar response, once you become aware of the man behind the image.

Jackson came into the world just weeks after his father had been killed in a logging accident. At the age of 13, Andrew, and his older brother Robert became couriers by joining the local regiment. Shortly thereafter, however, both boys were captured by British soldiers and were barely given enough food to sustain life.

While still being held captive, the Jackson brothers contracted small pox, and this, combined with the near starvation conditions, had both boys hovering over deaths door.

Their Mother successfully made a case for their release; she hammered on the fact that they were just boys-children-and eventually, their release was arranged.

When she arrived to bring them home, Robert, who was the sickest, was draped over the only horse she had. She and Andrew (who was just about as ill) walked the 40 miles back home, with his Mother leading the horse, and Andrew stumbling from behind.

Shortly after arriving back home, Robert died from his weakened condition. Andrews Mother assured him that he would be fine, as she left home to care for wounded soldiers in support of the war.

Within months, she too, would die from small pox, and at the age of 14, Andrew Jackson was an orphan; his Father was gone, his Mother, his brother Robert, and an older brother, Hugh, who had died of heat exhaustion in the heat of battle as a soldier-all dead and gone.

Fast forward a few years. Andrew Jackson becomes a lawyer; he was elected the first US Representative in Tennessee; later elected US Senator and judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court; he was a decorated military leader and became the 7th President of the United States.

A quite impressive list of accomplishments; he had finally reached a point where the “bad things “of his life were over, right? Not quite; just two months before he took the office of President, after he was elected, his wife Rachael died of a heart attack, and Jackson would periodically cough up blood, for most of his life, as a result of a musket ball that had lodged near his heart as the result of being shot in one of the many duels he had fought in over the years.

In 1845, Andrew Jackson died at the age of 78 from tuberculosis and heart failure; a tremendous age considering that most men of this period died prior to the age of 50.

Andrew Jackson had every reason in the world to give up and settle into a complacent-even lazy lifestyle. He could have cried “But you don’t understand, my father died before I was born, my mother and brother died of small pox, and another brother died while fighting in the war. I’ve had a horrible life; I’m emotionally scarred and will never be able to have any kind of stability in my life!” He could have taken that path-but he didn’t.

Jackson held the leadership positions that he did, perhaps, because of his previous experiences.

So, the next time you are feeling like the world is against you and that you’ve been knocked down too many times to ever have a chance to make it out of your current conditions, take a look at the chap with the flowing locks of hair on the twenty dollar bill. He was knocked down too, but kept getting up, again, and again and again.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.

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