The following photo album is my small tribute to the American warriors who fell in Europe in the noble endeavor of returning liberty to the enslaved people of the nations occupied by the Nazi regime. As with anything that I write, I must acknowledge my gratitude to the photographers who have taken these outstanding images. With their cameras and their vision they have forever ennobled these, the final resting places of our fallen warriors.
I have no doubt that those photographers would stand with me as I say that the gratitude we Americans owe is not to them, but to those fallen warriors themselves that our undying thanks must be forever paid. They, in turn, are but a lasting symbol for all of the American fighting men and women who have courageously shed life's blood throughout history on the far off battle fields of the world, so that this, the Land of the Free might live on.
From the first volleys of the Revolution, to the War of 1812 that at last showed the English kings that we would forever stand alone, our fighting men have dauntlessly risked life and limb. Across the pages of history they have served and they have sacrificed. A great Civil War called upon gallant Americans from both the North and South to again stand, fight, and fall in battle. Under two flags they fought from Fort Sumter to Bull Run, to the fields of Gettysburg and such assaults as "Devil's Den", "Little Round Top", "Cemetery Ridge" and "Pickett's Charge." Three days...over 51,000 casualties, and the war was still in its infancy.
The young of America have never been strangers to enemy fire. Lesser wars, like Teddy Roosevelt's charge at San Juan Hill in Cuba, gave way to the greater wars of World War One and World War Two. The Second World War saw our men and women dying in Europe, Asia, Africa and the far flung islands of the Pacific. Evil all too frequently rears its head and again America engaged hostile fire in the frozen lands of Korea and then again in humid swamps of Viet Nam. Recent years have seen American boots marching into the fray in different conflicts throughout the Middle East, as yet again the youth of America are dying to bring freedom to those oppressed.
It seems an unending process of our military opposing the forces of evil wherever they gain power over the innocent. It is to those who have answered that final call that I dedicate the following collection of photographs. Please feel free to share these photos with anyone or to leave a comment, but please do not tag them as it would detract from their solemn meaning.
Asleep In The Arms Of the Lord...
Click each photo to advance the sequence...
My humble words are but a timid salute to those who have given so much, and so I shall leave the closing thoughts to one who writes far better, and has given so much more than I. In all of history I do not believe that an American's love of country, and of his family, has ever been better expressed than it was in the final love letter of Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah. He was to fall the following day during the First Battle of Bull Run after composing these stirring words of love and devotion:
July the 14th, 1861
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?
I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death—and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.
I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
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.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.
- SullivanSullivan never got the chance to mail the letter to his wife. The next morning began the first battle of Bull Run, and with the smoke being so heavy that he could not properly direct his men's fire, he assumed a position in front of them. A cannon ball severed his leg and killed the horse he was riding. Sullivan was carried from the field and taken to a hospital where they did what they could but failed to save his life. He died a week later from his wounds. The letter to his wife was discovered when a fellow officer was clearing Sullivan's foot locker, and he mailed these beautiful words to her. Nothing is known of her life after that, other than what was recorded in the family bible. She never remarried.Now, go dry your eyes and thank the God you worship for men such as Sullivan and those other brave souls who have given so very much that you and I have so very much to be thankful for.
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