There are many ways to react to this quote, but I am choosing to emphasize the loyalty, love and compassion of a man who knew he might die as a result of his choice in Omaha, Nebraska - but who decided to take that chance in order to try to save others, if possible.
James Willie was the leader of the group. Levi Savage was a sub-captain. Having served previously in the Mormon Battalion, Savage was a valuable resource for the journey because of his knowledge of the trail. It was getting late in the year, and everyone knew they needed to head west. There was trouble obtaining wood for the handcarts, and they weren’t sturdy. Willie led a campfire meeting to discuss the departure and promised that God would be with them. He asked Levi Savage to give a few words. Savage expressed concern to the group that they were leaving too late in the year, and stating that he felt many would die along the way if they left. He encouraged everyone to stay put in Omaha.
Willie scolded Savage for a lack of faith and asked for a vote on whether the group wanted to head west. Most of the group responded that they wanted to go; approximately 100 people stayed in Omaha. Savage responded with a passionate speech. In a journal, James Chislett records that Savage said,
“What I have said I know to be true; but seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, and, if necessary, will die with you. May God in his mercy bless and preserve us.”
There's a complexity in this quote that is powerful and really resonates with me.