One assignment for the veterans’ writing group was to write about whom they would choose to be, either a real person or a fictional character from before 1930. I limited it because we have people in the group who were alive then and I didn’t want them choosing someone they knew. After some protests, I withdrew the time limit.
If I could be anyone from the past, it would be Harriet Tubman. Though she suffered greatly in her early years and later voluntarily subjected herself to a great deal of privation, she had a number of qualities that I admire and that I want to emulate.
She had courage enough for ten people and was able to impart it to others as she led them to freedom and safety.
She had single-minded determination to thwart the slaveholders and slave catchers.
When she wasn’t eluding capture in the swamps and forests of the South, she worked to secure enough money to return to her role as conductor.
She had a great imagination – enough to dress as a man to deceive the people who wanted her dead so badly they put a bounty of $40,000 on her, representing more than $1 million today. Her home state of Maryland added another $12,000.
John Brown dubbed her “General Tubman” for her skill in organizing the escape of slaves from Maryland.
She served as a spy and scout for the Union Army during the Civil War and led a raid that freed some seven hundred slaves in South Carolina.
Despite disabilities brought on by blow to the head she received as a child from the plantation overseer, she lived to be almost one hundred years old.
She has inspired generations of people and remains a respected woman who made great contributions to our country.