Monday, March 11, 2013


Monday, March 11, 2013 8:22 AM
Sir Francis Drake. One of the most famous people in history did not start out so famous, in fact he came from a poor farming family. He was born around the year 1544 and was the eldest of 12 siblings, which during those times, meant he would be the one taking care of all his younger brothers and sisters. Often times during his youth drake dreamed of being a great explorer and adventurer. In these days he was mocked and made fun of by other children his age and even the adults of his town for having such a large dream and not accepting his lot to be a poor farmer.

Later Drakes family were persecuted for being protestants and moved to a different town with no persecution where his father became the protestant chaplain of the Royal Navy. Drake would often accompany his father and marvel at the huge sailing ships which would return from all over the known world. He dreamed of being captain of one of these ships some day. But how could he? He was from a poor family with no coat of arms or family crest. In those days if you did not have a coat of arms or a family crest you were not of noble birth and generally not permitted to hold any sort of prominent office. But young Francis' dream was to be a great explorer no matter what that meant, family crest or no family crest.

Drakes father could see how important his sons dream was to him and tried to help him all he could. He apprenticed Francis to his neighbor who owned a larger ship and was in charge of taking supplies and goods for trade between England and France. The ship master was so impressed with young Drakes attitude, fortitude, and conduct that when he died having had no wife or children of his own, left the ship to Drake. What a blessing! Now Drake could sail anywhere! His dream was finally beginning to take shape, after 22 years of dreaming. 

Within the year he and his cousin would be some of the first people to ever make the voyage to the new world. He stayed around the Caribbean for almost a year and raided several Spanish towns and ships. The English and Spanish were at war at this time and Drake had acquired a permit from the English government to raid Spanish settlements and ships and send the loot back to England. 
Drakes exploits were noticed by Queen Elizabeth and soon became one of her most trusted and admired Admirals. 

Drake would go on to become the 2nd person in all of history to circumnavigate the earth, he was one of the most successful pirates of all time, was knighted, helped win the Anglo-Spanish war for the English, among a host of other great accomplishments. Drake overcame many hardships while his dream was taking shape. He was almost killed on many occasions, survived multiple life threatening wounds, had his ships stolen, and was marooned on the jungle coast of panama, among a host of other things. But no one remembers those things, only his great accomplishments. There is even a legend that he buried his vast amount of treasure somewhere in the Rhub Al Khali desert in Arabia. His treasure has been searched for by many of the greatest archaeologists in the world, including T.E. Lawrence, most commonly known as Lawrence of Arabia. In fact that's why Lawrence of Arabia went there in the first place but that's a story for another day.

Toward the end of his life Sir Francis Drake was given a coat of arms by Queen Elizabeth. A great honor even today, but back then this meant that you had made it. To be given a coat of arms is almost unheard of in all of English history at this point and only a few great men had obtained such an honor. It would be the equivalent today of being given an honorary doctorate from a college or having the President make you an honorary head of state.

Since his death Drake has been the center of legends, songs, movies, TV shows, and video games. He has multiple places around the world named after him and we would not know much about exploration had it not been for Drake. You see young Francis Drake could never have seen how his dream could have propelled him to such great heights and achievements while everyone else was ridiculing him while he was still a boy. But who were those people that mocked him? No one remembers their names or who they were. Instead of having great dreams themselves, they chose to mock someone who did, but the price for them doing so was them dying in obscurity. 

In 1592 Gonzalo Gonzalez de Castillo in a letter to King Phillip the II of Spain was describing Sir Francis Drake and said "The people of quality dislike him for having risen so high from such a lowly family...". In a special honor to him Queen Elizabeth had the words "SIC PARVIS MAGNA" inscribed on Drakes coat of arms. This saying is Latin and translates as "Great things come from small beginnings". 

I challenge you today to remember this statement when someone mocks the dream in your heart, or if you can never see how such a big dream can be accomplished by someone who has started out with a small beginning. Maybe you can't see how that dream you have will ever take shape. Never give up, never stop believing in your dream. Young Francis Drake could never have seen how his dream of being a great explorer and adventurer would ever take shape while he was taking care of his 11 younger siblings, but he never gave up on it; and with a little Divine intervention, his dream carried him to the greatest height possible at the time. So if you stumble, or struggle, or face ridicule, just remember "SIC PARVIS MAGNA". Great things come from small beginnings. 

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