Sunday, November 7, 2010


"The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name."

Capt. Sullivan Ballou, 2nd RI Vols.
Letter to his wife July 14, 1861.
Died of Wounds received at Manassas July 28, 1861

Another Veteran's Day approaches and for those who take a moment to mark the occasion they will again hear the words--dedication, sacrifice and suffering. Yet for many those words cannot be fully understood. We who have not been called upon to endure the horrors of battle cannot comprehend the fear, privations, aguish, pain, and loss that such an experience entails. But while we may never comprehend, we must acknowledge what others have gone through on our behalf. Not just by listening to the words; but by our own actions both honor and advance the principles for which they fought.

Today I do not look beyond my own backyard to try and understand what lay behind the words-- dedication, sacrifice and suffering. Every day on our way to work, to school, to shop, or on to our favorite watering hole; we pass little reminders of what those words mean. Acknowledging the limits of my own experiences I shall let those who have stood in harm's way speak to us. And from their words and actions I hope we all have a better understanding of their sacrifices and also an understanding of our obligation to ensure that they were not in vain........

...Closed the Mouth of this Vast and Awful Tomb.

Fredericksburg National Cemetery--

"the bodies of these poor fellows, stripped nearly naked, were gathered in huge mounds around the pit, and tumbled neck and heal into it: the dull thud of corpses falling on corpses coming from the depths of the hole until the solid mass of human flesh reaches near the surface, when a covering of logs, chalk, and mud closed the mouth of this vast and awful tomb."

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last Tattoo;No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

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