President of Chester County History Center: ‘Lessons from Our Past Teach, Instill Pride in This Great Nation’

By
Chester County History Center
Images via the Chester County History Center.
Conor Hepp, left, and Edward "Ned" Hector.

I am often asked why history is important or why I am so passionate about the History Center. I care deeply about my community and all history is personal History. I often think about Edward “Ned” Hector, a Revolutionary War soldier who put his life on the line for a new nation.

Ned Hector was one of the 5,000 to 6,000 people of color that served in the military during the Revolutionary War. He was a gunner’s assistant in the 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery. Like many of those here in Chester County on that day in September of 1777, Hector fought bravely resisting the British advance at the Battle of Brandywine.

The battle raged for 11 bloody hours. Realizing the day was lost, the order to retreat was given. While other men fled for their lives, Ned Hector held his ground. You see, he understood how desperate the American dream was. He understood that without supplies, materials, and support, the Americans would have no hope of defeating the most powerful empire in the world.

Ordered to abandon his wagon and retreat, Ned Hector refused. The echoes of his response have been passed down through the centuries. He simply said, “The enemy shall not have my team.” As the British crushed the American lines, he gathered supplies, fended off pursuers, and escaped with his team. Ned Hector’s wagon was the only one salvaged from his company to fight another day.

This is but one story, of one day, in one person’s life. Yet, like throwing a stone in water, the ripples affect every drop in a pond. There are hundreds, thousands, millions, of stories like Ned Hector’s here in our county. Stories of bravery and fear, stories of perseverance and redemption, stories of success and failure. They are all part of our country’s memory.

Why is the History Center important? Stories. We preserve and give dignity to the ordinary people whose contributions were extraordinary. The lessons from our past teach and instill pride in this great nation. 

If you were born in Chester County, if you grew up here, just moved, or simply have found this message; you belong here. 

Take pride in our shared history.

Help us share it.

Make a donation to preserve Chester County’s past, present, and future.

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Conor Hepp is President of the Chester County History Center.

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