We celebrate a day of memorial to honor all those brave souls who have served and given their lives…for us. My own 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 who have fought and died for this cause. I am thankful to have a husband and a son and friends who have also woven their threads in the blanket of our freedom and safely returned home again. I have come to believe that every American owes it to themselves to learn the history that precedes them, to visit the battlefields, and to walk the military cemeteries and see the multitudes of white crosses marching in ethereal formation. It is an experience that may give us more of an personal understanding than simply ink on a history book page. It is a window through which we must look to better understand what they gave so that we may have. It also will serve to remind us of the mantle of responsibility that has been squarely lain across our own 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.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same” ~ Ronald Reagan