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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Student Essay - Is it worthwhile pursuing a goal if the goal is not reached? – by Ng Sean Jin, Year 7, Sri KL Secondary School

Is it worthwhile pursuing a goal if the goal is not reached? – by Ng Sean Jin, Year 7, Sri KL Secondary School

Some people say that it is not worthwhile pursuing any goal if the goal is not reached. I, however, think otherwise.
It was the year 480 B.C. King Xexes of Persia mobilised 2 million Persian infantry to invade Greece. The Greeks were known to be brave and formidable warriors. However, they were unable to muster an army in time due to their states being unwilling to cooperate. But King Leonidas stepped up and united the warring states just in time. In two days, he managed to gather an army of 7000 Greeks. They were to fight off the Persians in the pass of Thermopylae because the gods had guaranteed them instant victory. 

On the day of the battle, 7000 Greeks stood side by side with spear and shield. They were confident because the gods had promised them victory. But their confidence was short-lived for when the Persian army marched forth, the Greeks could hardly believe their eyes. In front of them marched 800,000 Persian warriors, hungry for blood. The Greeks and Persians were soon locked in a series of hand to hand combat. Surprisingly, it was going decently for the Greeks, up until there arose a traitor. 

Ephialtes was his name. In return for a huge sum of gold, Ephialtes told King Xexes about a hidden passage in the pass of Thermopylae. In no time, the Greeks found themselves surrounded and cornered. Many of the brave men fell as the Persians launched a hammer anvil charge. Victory looked bleak for the Greeks. That was when King Leonidas and 300 of his Spartan warriors appeared. He had heard of the betrayal and was willing to die with his men, not as king but as a soldier. His famous words to his Spartans were, “We have eaten a good meal, a good lunch, but tonight we will die in hell!”

King Leonidas positioned his men in long thick rows. Instead of shielding himself, a soldier shielded the person to his left. This way, the life of the comrade beside a soldier is in his hands. Anyone who fled the formation would lead to the ultimate demise of the Greek army. King Leonidas called this formation The Phalanx. With only 300 Spartans, King Leonidas led his men into the fray. The Persians were very confused because they didn’t know whose shield belonged to whom. 

The Spartans held on for seven days and six nights before being annihilated. They fought to the last man. Despite being massacred, they successfully killed up to 200,000 Persian warriors. It is said that the corpse of King Leonidas was so filled with arrows that he could no longer be recognised. But around him lay 36 dead Persian troops. The Persians were forced to turn back. They were winded and they did not want to know what lay ahead of them.

There is no doubt that this was a failure on the part of the Greeks. But I like to see it as a valuable sacrifice. Although the battle was ultimately lost, the reputation of Greeks being fearsome warriors spread across the globe. The formation Leonidas developed – The Phalanx – was to be used by Alexander the Great and the Romans. The battle gave the Greeks something to fight for and it gave them hope. Many will still claim that this was a failure because the goal was not achieved. But King Leonidas and his men ensured that time was granted for the women and children to flee to safety. Their courage inspired the remaining Greeks to fight off the Persians. I therefore conclude that it is worthwhile pursuing a goal even if the goal is not reached.

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