Keep On! A Reminder from John Paul Jones
By Michaela Pieczynski
The brisk air of the British Atlantic coastline nipped at the faces of the American crew aboard the Bonhomme Richard. As the rising sun met the Americans, the gallant Captain John Paul Jones stood upon the deck of his mighty vessel. Sails with British colors glistened in the distance, outline two British ships, the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough. The approaching vessels fired at the American ship, and the presence of a second ship only increased the odds.
The sight of battle never startled Jones. Nevertheless, the single American ship battled fairly with the two enemy ships. Cannon fire echoed in the distance while strident men shouted orders. The morning sky was filled with cannon fire. The three-and-a-half hour battle started poorly for the Americans, but courageous Jones tried to overcome the British cannon fire by merging close to the enemy vessel, yet the Serapis’s cannon fire tore through the heart of Jones’s ship. Just when victory seemed hopeless, a British officer exclaimed over the crash of gunfire, “Do you ask for a quarter?”
American spirits were lifted as Captain John Paul Jones rose up boldly and said, “I have not yet begun to fight!”
Although his ship was being engulfed by cold Atlantic waters, Jones continued to pound away at the British. Finally, the British captain of the Serapis had fallen, causing the Countess of Scarborough to flee from American hands. The American crew commandeered the British warship and watched the Bonhomme Richard sink beneath blood-stained waters.
Jones and his men hoisted American colors and set sail to Paris, leaving an American victory at sea—the first great victory at sea.
John Paul Jones had the courage and heart of a true American. Though his life was at stake, Jones never gave up—even when his ship was sinking. All of Jones’s energy he channeled into his duty. As a result of his faith, loyalty, and love to America, John Paul Jones helped his nation to win her first naval battle. From John Paul Jones, I have been encouraged never to give up, no matter how hopeless the battle may seem.