Honesty. Respect. Kindness. Courage. Self-discipline. Perseverance. Compassion. Dependability. Generosity. Loyalty.
Most parents want to instill these kinds of important values in their children. Whether it’s to lay a firm foundation for becoming good citizens and adults, or to give them tools to enjoy a long life, helping your child develop a strong moral compass is an important task that shouldn’t be missed.
Of course, this is often easier said than done, and often feels daunting and impossible. Teaching your kids values takes time —a scarce commodity for many folks these days. Many moms and dads spend hours upon hours away from home at multiple jobs, just trying to make ends meet, and when they are home, they’re exhausted. Too often during these stressed times, outside influences, like the Internet, television and video games creep in and can negatively shape our children’s moral character.
It’s a tall order, but we really must begin keeping closer tabs on the outside influences that our children are faced with, and how they are affecting their lives. One way we can do this is to let our children enjoy stories of real heroes – rather than just letting them bathe in modern day pop culture through passive entertainment.
One hero who embodies many strong character virtues is Sir Francis Drake, featured in the newest audio-theater drama, Under Drake’s Flag, based on a GA Henty book by the same name. (You can read more about why audio-theater is important for kids and families here.)
Who Was Sir Francis Drake?
Francis Drake was born in Tavistock, England sometime around 1540 (we don’t know his actual birthday). While we don’t know much about his childhood, we do know he became a sailor at a young age. By 1567 he was sailing for his country…and quickly learned privateering was dangerous business. Early in his career, Drake was attacked by a Spanish squadron and lost two of his ships. However, Drake showed grace under fire. The Spanish immediately saw his strength, and became afraid of him, quickly labeling Drake a pirate and an enemy of Spain.
In 1570 and 1571, Drake made two voyages to the West Indies for trading purposes, and was very successful. In 1572, he commanded two ships and sailed to the Carribean in an expedition against the Spanish. He sailed on to the Pacific Ocean and captured the port of Nombre de Dios in Panama, returning to England with loads of Spanish treasure and a reputation as a brilliant and exceptional privateer.
In 1577, Drake was secretly commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I to fight against the Spanish colonies in America located along the Pacific coast. This would be the grand voyage that would eventually make Drake one of the most respected captains and privateers in history. Drake left England with five ships, but by the time he reached the Pacific Ocean in 1578, only one ship was left. This ship, originally named The Pelican, was renamed to become Drake’s most famous vessel The Golden Hind.
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In this famous voyage, Drake would become the first Englishman to navigate the Straits of Magellan. But that wasn’t all. Drake sailed up the west coast of South America and then continued north, hoping to find a route across to the Atlantic. Unsuccessful, he turned back south. Even in his failure, Drake set a record that would go down in the history books. He had sailed further up the west coast of America than any European had done before.
First Englishman To Circle The Globe
Drake pressed on. He rounded the Cape of Good Hope and then returned to England in September of 1580; three years from the time he began the trip. He brought home with him loads of spices, riches, and Spanish treasure for Queen Elizabeth. But more than that, Drake had accomplished what seemed nearly impossible in that day and age – he had circumnavigated the globe. While he wasn’t exactly the first person to do so, he was the first Englishman to accomplish such a feat.
His popularity with the Queen soaring, Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth aboard his beloved ship, the Golden Hind. However, Drake and his crew were sworn to secrecy about the details of their voyage. Elizabeth didn’t want Spain (or anyone else for that matter) to hear about Drake’s adventures, and most likely the treasures they found along the way.
In 1585, Drake returned to the West Indies. This trip, he sailed on to Florida and beyond to Carolina, where he picked up the unsuccessful English colonists off the coast of Roanoke Island. In 1587, war broke out with Spain and Drake was to become a huge force within the war effort. He became vice admiral of the fleet that went on to defeat the Spanish Armada.
Drake continued sailing well into his 50s, and his last expedition would take him back to the West Indies. This time the Spanish were better prepared for him, and the voyage ended badly. Drake became sick with dysentery off the coast of Panama, and died in January of 1596. As was often custom in this situation, his body was buried at sea.
Sir Francis Drake is often considered a hero for his constant bravery, his grace under fire, and his strong sense of loyalty to his country. It is also said that Sir Francis Drake, a devout Christian man of faith, showed kindness to his prisoners and treated them well, which was nearly unheard of in that day and age. Drake was above all, a humble man, and never let his status as Captain or as the Queen’s favorite inflate his ego.
Learn more about Sir Francis Drake in Under Drake’s Flag.