Elisabeth Clay: Does The Spirit of a Warrior Travel Through Family Lines?

The definition of Spirit Warrior is something or someone, who is not of the physical world, who faces conflict. I like to think that the spirit of a warrior is not defined as how tough the person looks or how menacing they may be, but how they approach a challenge and how they choose to conquer it. That is just my personal opinion. It’s also how I try to see the challenges of my life; whether they are tough competitions or something more personal.

My sister says that I embody the nature of an Amazon warrior, that even though, and perhaps because I am a female, I am mighty, I do not see myself as that person. But it absolutely reflects my effort.

The spirit of the warrior does not seem ingrained in many people. Some say that the fighting spirit is individualistic in nature, but there are many in my lineage who are fighters, warriors, and adventurers. Maybe heritage does affect us, but I feel as though I was wired for this from birth, and it is looking like one of my little brothers may be too.

The Warriors on My Father’s Side

My father’s side of the family is largely Finnish and Swedish. These members, while some are farmers and other working people, are known as Vikings by heritage. As conquerors and explorers, adventure and fighting is who they were by constitution. My great, great grandfather on my father’s side was an immigrant from Finland to Alaska in 1903. He married and had a large family. The land was very hard and yet they flourished while others did not.

Finns have a term called Sisu; it is a concept and cultural construct that is described through a combination of various English terms including stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness. It is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. Sisu according to wikipedia is a grim, gritty, white knuckle form of courage that is typically presented in situations where success is against the odds. According to Finlandia.edu, Sisu is an inherent characteristic of the Finnish people. It is a quality that lets them pick up, move on, and learn something from previous failures. It’s the hard-jawed integrity that makes them pay their war debts in full. In short, it’s the indomitable will that sets Finns apart and explains many of the incredible things they do.

The Warriors on My Mother’s Side

My mother’s father’s side goes back to the Revolutionary War. Many of my relatives fought, and most perished in, the Battle of Oriskany in Herkimer, New York. Wikipedia describes it as “one of the bloodiest battles in the North American theater of the American Revolutionary War and a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign.” One of my ancestors was injured and had the option to be removed from battle and live, but choose instead to stay and fight to the death. The Seeber’s and all their kin are my relatives. They were fathers, sons and cousins who all fought courageously, many to their death. While the men were readying to fight, the women were out scoping out where the opposing forces approached from. Men and women in my family had their own devotions to their beliefs and stood by them no matter the cost.

An ancestor from my mother’s, mother’s side was a member of the Prussian guard who fought and protected his homeland in the 1840’s – 50’s. He would later immigrate to Louisiana and fight in the civil war in a volunteer regimen. He fought for what he believed in at least twice in his life. C.E. Bean, an Australian Correspondent said that the Prussian Guard was ”…a very fine stamp of men, by far the finest Germans I have ever seen; the only troops I have ever seen taller even than our own men… The ingrained obligation to military service found in these northern Germans, many descendants of hardy families of Germans, Dutch and Huguenots that ‘colonised’ the region east of the Elbe from the 13th century onwards, also with a strict and prominent Protestant work ethic, made them good soldiers.” Many of the Prussian guard were referred to as “Young strapping farm hands”, a humble start but they did great things.

I Know Where I Come From

There’s a great quote from the ever popular Rocky movies, “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

While the people I have told you about are not the only fighters and ancestors of grit in my lineage, they are great examples of my forefathers, the people who I hope that I share sisu with. I approach each competition with the crest of my family’s honor in my heart and I hope to make them proud of how I represent it. My shield will be my honor; I will either fight with it held high or come home on it. May we each become our lion or lioness as it is a constant work; it never stops. Day by day we develop. We keep pushing to continue.


To quote CT Fletcher: “Until they throw dirt on me”.


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