I found a letter to my father from his grandmother in a volume of “Lee’s Lieutenants”. It was dated January 11, 1963, a few months after he married my mother. The 3 volume set of “Lee’s Lieutenants” was probably a late wedding present.
A few sentences in the letter that struck me….”These books which portray those who fought and died for things that they thought right. Men of ideals, courage, who thought of those who would come after them, and not of themselves.”
“Lee’s Lieutenants” refers to the men who fought with General Robert E. Lee during the American Civil War between 1861-1865. Some say the Civil War was fought to protect the institution of slavery, others say it was fought for the protection of states’ rights. Whatever position these men fought for, they fought for what THEY thought was right.
Men enlist as soldiers for various reasons. They might need monetary funds. They may enlist because other members of their family did. They may enlist because of certain beliefs they hold dear. Whatever the reason, a soldier knows that death is a possibility when he goes off to war. He is willing to risk his life in order to save someone else’s. Sacrificing your life for a cause you believe in is the ultimate act of courage, whether others agree with you or not.
It is comforting to know that whatever my ancestors did in their lives, be it fight in a war or toil day to day in life, they did it with me in mind. They may not have been alive to see the result of their decisions but it is passed down generation to generation. Our personalities, character traits, and DNA are the result of people who came before us. We need to honor the sacrifices they made in our own lives.