We celebrate a day of memory. We celebrate a day to honor all those who have served and given their lives…for us. My words appear too weak and insignificant. However, President Lincoln’s words, in a letter to Mrs. Bixby, always ring in my head as the pinnacle of an offering of thanks for this sacrifice:
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
As we move farther and farther away from the personal experience of such sacrifices, we forget and become desensitized to the meaning of what has been done on our behalf. I am proud to know that I have ancestors that have sacrificed for this cause. I am thankful to have a husband and son who have also woven their threads in the blanket of our freedom. I think that every American owes it to themselves to watch the series John Adams, about the birth of our Nation. I think every American owes it to themselves to watch Band of Brothers to see the protection of that Nation. Yes, they are Hollywood renditions, but they are also based on the written words of those who experienced it first hand. It is a window into a time that may give us more of an understanding than simply ink on a history book page. It is a window through which we must look to understand what they gave so that we may have. It also reminds us of the mantle of responsibility that has been squarely lain across our shoulders to carry on.
So to all that have done that for me and continue to do so, as humble as my gratitude appears in the shadow of this magnitude, I offer it. And I will continue to pray for God to Bless this America that they have so honored with their lives.
George Washington’s words to Circular Letter Addressed to the Governors of all the States on the Disbanding of the Army, June 14, 1783
“I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for brethren who have served in the field; and finally that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.”