In the PBS series "The Civil War," Ken Burns presents a letter of Sullivan Ballou, a Union Army soldier from Rhode Island, written to his wife, Sarah. It is arguably the most beautiful of all love letters, written by what appears to be a regular guy to the woman who is the love of his life. (To read the entire letter, click here.)
I never served in the armed forces of the United States, and obviously have not lost my life in defense of this country. But I can relate to the prospect of losing someone I love in defense of a higher cause. Ballou's letter captures what I believe would be the sentiment of the millions who have. I know it would be mine. The passage I remember most is this: "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 brightest 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."
To all who lost their lives in the service of this country, I pay you homage this Memorial Day weekend. Your sacrifice is my harvest.