“The Endurance was the three-masted barquentine in which Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic on the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. She was launched in 1912 from Sandefjord in Norway and was crushed by ice, causing it to sink, three years later in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica.”
The miracle is that in the last days of The Endurance being crushed by pack ice, all hands walked away from the ship. Through great hardship Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and a small accompaniment made it to safety at the South Georgia Station. Under his leadership and the crew’s perseverance the remaining crew members were rescued from the bitter weather of Elephant Island.
Upon his return to England he was knighted by King Edward VII for his leadership in such extreme circumstances. He had endured conditions so severe that polar historian Stephanie Barczewski described their endurance as “incredible.” [Barczewski, Stephanie (2007). Antarctic Destinies: Scott, Shackleton and the changing face of heroism. London: Hambledon Continuum. ISBN 978-1-84725-192-3.]
One generation later our world was engulfed in World War II. The First World War was supposed to be “the War to end all wars.” Now, of course, we know war to be a part of the corrupted, power hungry nature of all humanity. Yet it was this Second World War that prompted journalist Tom Brokaw (b.1940) to write The Greatest Generation, a book describing the metal, the stamina and perseverance of the men and women who endured such a terrible conflict.
These historic events raise a challenge for all of us—
What are we willing to endure to achieve our goals?
Few of us even raise this question today; settling instead for surviving. If we can get up in the morning and get through another day we consider ourselves successful. Amazing!
What will make our generation great? What will we have to endure to make a difference?
Of the many words that rise to the surface, certainly commitment, sacrifice, stick-to-it-tivness, hard work, focus, and suffering must come to mind.
In one of King David’s Psalms (15:4), there is a descriptor that seems most appropriate—
“… he swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (NAS)
Commitment and perseverance may just be their own rewards.
For what it’s worth,