Music and the Spoken Word

Resourcefulness and Ingenuity - Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sometimes life’s most difficult problems can be solved in the most unexpected ways. In fact, even when a situation seems downright hopeless, a little resourcefulness and ingenuity can lead to surprising solutions.
This truth was illustrated in dramatic fashion during the American Revolution, when a fledgling nation struggled to assert its independence against one of the great military powers of the time. What the American soldiers lacked in training and resources they made up for with determined ingenuity.
One great example of that ingenuity took place not far from here, near what is now the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point. During the Revolutionary War, this bend in the Hudson River became a key point of defense. They knew that if they could defend the river, they could defend themselves. So to prevent British ships from passing, they blocked the waterway with every obstacle they could think of: logs, underwater spikes, and even sunken vessels.
The revolutionaries didn’t have a lot of resources, but it just so happened that only a few miles from West Point was one of the largest iron deposits in the world. They determined to use that iron to make a massive chain and stretch it from bank to bank to make the river impassable. Under the direction of General George Washington, in a manufacturing feat that would be remarkable even by today’s standards, they built a 500-yard chain in six short weeks. Each link in the massive chain was two to three inches thick and two to three feet long. Men worked on seven forges and ten welding fires around the clock to complete the 65-ton chain and place it underwater. The huge chain held and effectively blocked passage on the Hudson River for the rest of the war.1 Now memorialized here at West Point, this piece of the chain reminds us of the ingenuity and determination of those early patriots.
It is also a reminder that when we have our own personal waterways to defend, when we face our own insurmountable odds, we can find safety and strength in doing our best with what we have, in working with resourcefulness and ingenuity to find solutions to our most difficult problems.

1. See Kenneth L. Alford, “‘Delivered by the Power of God’: Nephi’s Vision of America’s Birth,” in The Things Which My Father Saw: Approaches to Lehi’s Dream and Nephi’s Vision, ed. Daniel Belnap and others (2011), 273–75.