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Abigail Adams: the spouse of '76

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- I recently read two excellent books, John Adams and 1776, by renowned historian and Pulitzer winning author, David McCollough.

Both books chronicle the events that shaped the country's early struggle for independence. While I was already familiar with the heroics of George Washington, I was most surprised to learn of the important role of Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress and eventual second President of the United States. During this Air Force Year of the Family, Abigail Adams sets an excellent example of the importance of the military spouse.

John Adams called Abigail his "best, dearest, worthiest, wisest friend in the world." Abigail was in all respects John Adams' equal and was a constant source of support and encouragement. Unlike many of our founding fathers, John Adams was not wealthy and it was at great personal risk and financial sacrifice that he and Abigail served their country. It was a constant struggle for Abigail to make ends meet but she fully supported John's
public service.

Abigail, like many military spouses, was responsible for raising her family and managing the household. Living just 10 miles outside of occupied Boston, Abigail was under constant threat of British bombardment and raids.

While many families fled the countryside for safety, Abigail courageously remained to run the family farm. In addition to the dangers of war, she also had to contend with the death of her unborn daughter, high inflation, shortages of food, rampant disease, and a regular flow of refugees.

Despite these challenges, her superior management skills helped to turn a profit on the farm, which allowed her husband to be one of the few delegates to remain in Philadelphia throughout the war to focus his energies on the country's business.

Today many of our military families face similarly unique challenges while their loved ones are called away. We should recognize the patriotism of our families and be grateful for their many sacrifices. The tradition of service that Abigail Adams set during the earliest years of the country is still alive in today's military spouses.