Finishing up my Memorial Day viewing of Saving Private Ryan.  Always stunned again at the portrayal of our soliders’ courage and selfless valor.

The movie refers to this letter written by Abraham Lincoln to a Mrs. Bixby, whom it was reported had lost 5 sons.  It expresses well the heart of gratitude for those who have served and sacrificed their lives “on the altar of freedom”.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,–

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

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln




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