The skies are clouded, the land is cold.
Fierce battles in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia have spread concern among the ranks.
Closer to home, a skirmish over ballot measures threatens the function of our public enterprise; our counterattack requiring a near-total mobilization of our resources - merely to hold our ground.
Right now we are maneuvering in difficult terrain; our revolution for change has been slowed, our troops disheartened and worn. Though we are loathe to admit it, we are grateful for even a temporary respite from the rigors of daily combat.
In many ways, we find ourselves in similar circumstances to the rag-tag citizen-army that sought refuge at Valley Forge.
Most Americans remember at least the beginning of our story.
At Lexington and Concord - then again at Breed's Hill - minutemen ignited the imagination of paupers and princes alike. People watched as a small band of ordinary people claimed the right to fight for self-governance.
Americans have long taken satisfaction in the narrative; in the meanings of our revolutionary war for Independence.
Few remember the hard times that followed that initial rush to arms.
Not long after the fury of the opening volleys, the harsh realities of warfare against a superpower began to sink in.
Revolutions are expensive: talent, time, and treasure are necessary ingredients for any sustained advance on an entrenched adversary - and the Continentals were in short supply of each.
The Continental Army suffered defeat throughout 1777. Troops were few, funds were scarce, and the morale of the volunteer army was on the verge of collapse.
Then as now, the revolutionaries were battered and bruised. Many allowed fear and its darker shadow- self-doubt - free license to roam.
That moment was a critical test for democracy. Was the idea of self-governance powerful enough to sustain the rigors of war? What are limits to individual - or collective will? Could - or would - America become an independent nation through force of arms, or would it become merely an historical footnote?
Every generation must answer these questions. Whatever we may choose in our time, we must remember that the men of Valley Forge believed that freedom was worth its price.
Washington to his eternal credit understood this. And he recognized the situation for what it was. Accordingly, he set about changing his circumstances; Washington changed the culture and perspective of his troops.
In that desperate winter of 1777-1778 the battle-worn members of the Continental Army held each other through the cold; they came together as an Army and eventually transformed the world through their courage and valor.
Reorganized, refitted, and retrained - the revolutionaries became a unit. New leadership was put into place, and proven veterans were elevated and entrusted with the support and tools necessary for the tasks ahead.
Though important, it was neither von Steuben's endless drilling, nor a shared stake in the economic opportunities of a separate nation that bound these patriots together - it was a shared commitment to something larger than themselves - a spirit of sacrifice and service that formed the foundation of Our America.
History records that a very different Continental Army came out of the encampment at Valley Forge.
That army, comprised of ordinary men with extraordinary commitment, accomplished the impossible: they defeated the British Army.
Too many of us fail to remember the impact of that feat.
At the time, the British Army was believed by many learned observes to be the best led, best skilled, best resourced military in existence; some thought the British Army the most powerful force on the planet.
And David slew Goliath.
The status quo was replaced with something new, but at considerable cost. And it is that formula - change through sacrifice - that remains a cautionary tale.
Big things can be done if people want it badly enough, but only if they want it bad enough.
Our nation originate from a small band of believers willing to sacrifice anything, everything they had to sacrifice - so that others could enjoy the blessings of self-governance.
Success was never preordained, it was neither given nor granted through the benevolent hand of fate; it was earned each and every day through intense struggle.
Our circumstances share many of the same characteristics; 2010 can become our Valley Forge if we are committed enough to seize its opportunity.
We can push our revolution for change forward - past the entrenched fortifications of the status quo. The President, Congress, and an army of committed believers must reform our lines and depart the temporary warmth of our wilderness retreat.
Soon, our President will issue new orders for the coming campaign. Visionary rhetoric can move nations to greatness, but only when citizens empower words with deeds.
We cannot remain satisfied with minor victories when the economy, health care, and wars abroad must be secured for our citizenry.
We must recognize the challenges ahead. Our adversaries are desperate, they favor tactics of delay, deceit, and division. Ironically, it is far easier to manufacture and inflame pseudo-populist anger than bring people together to solve problems.
Since the beginning, evil has always preyed upon the fears of the innocent.
And sadly, our adversaries have managed to succeed, at least temporarily, in turning the public - especially those most at risk - against their own interests.
This should not surprise us; we knew the order of battle before we set foot upon the field.
We understood from the beginning that we had to act with caution and purpose: we had to be careful because of the complexities associated with making real progress. We all knew it would be difficult for the American public to remember how we sunk into the pit - and who led us there - even as we scramble to climb up and out.
The audacious counterattacks executed by our adversaries have been wickedly successful. Their calculated scorched-earth sabotage of self-governance may well have purchased the time needed for retrenchment.
Ironically, the very same people that tossed our overboard, and then drove our ship of state aground for their own privilege, now advocate for a return to policies that enabled the vessel to founder.
After a little over a year in the field, our army is weary and now openly questions the merit of the fight itself.
Great hopes from our initial victories were engulfed in the artificial firestorms of summer. For it was in these well-orchestrated ambushes, the agents of the status quo turned the tide of battle.
Though shaken, we are not broken. We have ample personnel and resources to reset and attack on all fronts, should we choose to do so.
From our vantage point we can see the battlefield as well as the necessary paths for progress.
Our adversaries have placed themselves between us and our objective.
For just past our lines but well within sight, we can see the ship of state at anchor in the angry sea.
That vessel awaits the return of captain and crew; it waits for us.
Tossed about in the savage waves born from gale-force winds, our ship longs for its opportunity to aid us in our journey and discover new horizons of opportunity.
Built to weather the harshest squalls, it demands a master able to fix and keep a course.
We must fight our way to the seawall and back onto the bridge.
It will be costly and exact a high price and rightly so - for democracy must be earned, it cannot be given.
Leaders will fall, and some of our lofty objectives will be adjusted through circumstance.
We will arrive smaller than we began. But we will arrive.
Once we secure the ship of state, we - and not the forces of the status quo - will chart a new course so that Our America may realize the potential of new horizons.
Ultimately, the choice is ours alone.
Should we choose to accept defeat, we will secure an awful but easier truth: that 2008 was an accidental pause in the unfortunate but inevitable decline of a once great Republic.
Our surrender now will directly or indirectly midwife the last chapter of American History.
Should we choose to fight, we have an opportunity to build upon the gains of 2008.
Should we choose to fight, we earn the right to prove that 2008 was a major turning point; a moment when Our America took the path less traveled to make all the difference.
Should we choose to fight, we will rediscover that leadership is revealed during crisis - and we will become stronger because of the struggle.
Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of Our America; now is the time for all of us to invest ourselves in the fight - to reclaim the initiative and to establish a more perfect Union.
Now is the time - here, today - for all good patriots to come to the aid of Our America.
Let us begin anew.