“I Have Not Yet Begun To Fight!”
September 22, 2010 by Chip Wood
There are many things wrong with public education in this country, as we all know. But one thing that’s almost never mentioned is how little young people today learn about many of the heroes we were taught to admire.
If you want to see evidence of this play a word-association game with any teenager you know. Ask them to tell you about John Paul Jones, the Bonhomme Richard, or the phrase, “I have not yet begun to fight!” You’ll be sorely disappointed with their answers. When I did, all I got were blanks stares.
It was on Sept. 23, 1779, during the war for American independence, that Jones, commanding the Bonhomme Richard, engaged the British man-of-war Serapis. During the hard-fought sea battle the American ship suffered considerable damage and British captain Richard Pearson asked Jones to surrender. It was then that the American captain issued his famous reply.
Three hours later Pearson surrendered his ship to the Americans. Shortly after boarding the Serapis Jones and his men watched their own ship sink to the bottom of the sea. His ship was lost but he won the battle, and his famous response served as an inspiration for others for two centuries.
— Chip Wood