…the reason for this holiday.
Above is the American cemetery at Normandy, what follows is the text of President Lincoln’s letter to to a bereaved mother of five sons who were thought to have died while fighting for the Union in the Civil War. The brief, consoling message was written in November 1864 to Lydia Bixby, a widow living in Boston.
The text was read in the movie, Saving Private Ryan.
Its power is in its simplicity and sincerity and its relevance is as clear today as it was in 1864. You can almost hear Lincoln’s heart breaking as he wrote it.
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,
May God bless all of those who are serving, have served or gave all in service to our country. May the blessings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ be upon all of you and your families.