Monday, May 26, 2008

The Altar of Freedom

Today, as we gather with friends and family around grills and picnic tables hither and yon, please remember the purpose for this holiday, America's most sacred of national holidays--Memorial Day.

As we take the time today to remember those who have died in service to our nation, please remember those who have died in service to our own community, served our community faithfully over a lifetime and those who dedicate themselves to the administration of our government and our nation in general, on a daily basis.

God willing, your family has never had to experience the anguish of losing a friend or relative in service to their country. But over the last 232+ years of our nation's existence over 2.5 million of our compatriots have been killed or wounded as a result of their service in the armed forces. Beyond that incredible sacrifice are those who are killed in the line of duty as citizen peace officers such as firefighters and police officers. Every year, more than 300 such professionals are killed in the line of duty and their sacrifice is just as important to be remembered as those who died on the battlefield.

It is, therefore, wholly appropriate that the first memorial service of the city of Long Branch was held at Fireman's Memorial Park in Elberon. It is equally fitting that the largest and most attended memorial service of the day was held at the Veteran's Memorial at City Hall Park.
In closing, we at the Long Branch Advocate ask you to remember Mrs. Bixby and the millions like her who have no choice but to look to Memorial Day as the day our nation collectively pays homage to their lost loved ones:
The Bixby Letter is a famous letter, thought to be by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, to a bereaved mother of five sons who were thought to have died while fighting in the American Civil War.

In 1864, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew wrote to President Lincoln concerning one Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. Lincoln's letter to her was printed by the Boston Evening Transcript.
The following is the text of the letter:

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 freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

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