Most of you have heard this story... especially since the movie "300" came out about it pretty recently.
In an effort to stall the Mighty Persian army while the Greek army mobilized, King Leonidas chose three hundred men to defend this narrow valley; a small opening abutted by steep cliffs on both sides and the ocean at one end. These men, and some of their allies, held the huge army at bay for 6 days. Then, after a traitor led the Persians around on a goat path to get behind the Spartans, Leonidas and the remainder of the three hundred made a last stand in a circle upon a hillside. They were slain to the last man, but they delayed the Persian army long enough for their allies to escape safely in order to defend their homes and cities. The bravery of these 300 men allowed the Greek army time to mobilize and the Greek fleet time to arrive and engage. The heroism of these men inspired the Greeks to victory over the much larger invading force.
This has always been one of Weston's favorite battle stories, and I sure loved teaching on it when I taught 6th grade, but neither of us had ever heard this unique aspect of it before.
In the introduction to his book, "That's My Son", author Rick Johnson explains how the three hundred men had been chosen for this suicide mission of defense. They were certainly an eclectic mixture of grizzled war veterans and those who had never seen battle. Did Leonidas choose the bravest, the best warriors, the strongest athletes, or even the wisest men he could find? No, he stated that he chose these men based on the character of their wives and mothers. He reasoned that Thermopylae would not be the deciding battle of the war, and since all the men he chose were destined to be killed, their wives and mothers would be left for the rest of Greece to see. It these women were broken by their loss, than the Greeks would lose heart and fail to defend their homeland. But if these women exhibited courage and strength, then they would be an inspiration that could lead to victory.
As a mother, I have the calling and responsibliity to similarly raise my sons to be men who will lead with courage and integrity, no matter what the plan their Heavenly father has for them. Gulp.