In 1776, just six months after signing the Declaration of Independence, the united American colonies were on the verge of military defeat. In November, Gen. George Washington's citizen soldiers were defeated on Long Island and forced retreat. By December, the Americans managed to retreat safely across the Deleware River to Pennsylvania, but this Christmas would not bring peace and tranquility. During the Christmas of 1776, hope, or what little of it remained from heady days in Philadelphia, was all but lost. Washington's army, if it could be called an army, was badly equipped-many of the soldiers were without shoes. Nedless to say, morale was low and expectations of victory even lower. It was then that washington summoned his generals and devised a plan to launch a surprise assault on the Hessian soldiers-German mercenaries-who lied in wait at Tenton N.J., just across the Deleware River. Here the plan was drawn up, "Christmas Day at night..is the time fixed upon for our attempt on Trenton, " said Washington. Meanwhile, Thomas Paine proved once again that the pen is mightier than the sword as he inspired the soldiers, writing: "These are the times that tyr men's souls...the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." On Christmas night 1776, Washington's army of 2,400 men stealthily crossed the partially frozen Deleware River. The crossing had taken longer than planned, and, as a result, the attack would not occur under the cover of night. Nontheless, it would soon be revealed that the Americans had achieved total surprise. Just two hours after it began, the Battle of Trenton was complete-the Americans won a smashing victory, capturing more than 900 Hessian prisoners of war. A Hessian officer stationed in New York at the time, wrote, "Thus the times had changed! The Americans had constantly run before us. Four weeks ago we expected to end the war with the capture of Philadelphia, and now we have to render Washington the honor of thinking about our defense. Due to this affair at Trenton, such a fright came over the army that if Washington had used the opportunity we would have flown to our ships and let him have all of America. Since we had thus far underestimated our enemy, from this unhappy day onward we saw everything through a magnifying glass." The men who fought and won the battle of Trenton changed the course of history. And when they won, the victory was sweet. News of Trenton and Princeton spread across the land, lifting spirits of patriots everywhere. Many a battle lay ahead, but now Americans could think of winning the War of Independence. Now they could imagine that their great strugle would have a glorious end." Washington and his army restored hope that America would be free- this was America's first Christmas and it is, a timeless lesson in hope, sacrifice and the spirit of Christmas. www.townhall.com/columnists/jackkemp/printjk20041220.shtml Can you imagine how many newspapers today would report this world changing event.........??