Over the past few weeks, my daughters and I have been studying the Civil War. Immersed in stories of honor, bravery, tragedy, horror, and suffering, we have been moved by the characters and impressed by the leadership that brought our nation through the most tumultuous time in our history.
To further our understanding, we have also begun a quest to visit battlefield sites— to stand where soldiers, young and old, venerable and vulnerable, stood and prayed and fought and died. We have beheld the vast grave markers in crooked rows, standing bleakly in the fading sun, one after another, each a testimony to someone’s dad, brother, husband, friend…
As I cringe at the devastation that war brought upon our kinsman, I am thankful for the victory that saved our Union and freed our enslaved brothers and sisters. And I can’t help but consider my present family and friends who are standing firm in their personal battlegrounds each day. My sister, who is bravely fighting cancer, determined to win back her health and her wholeness to return to her life of ministry. A friend whose seven-year-old faces a nine hour brain surgery to remove a twisted temporal tumor. A relative who daily struggles with darkness of the mind and demons of the past that try to keep her from seeing the beauty of today. And on and on the list goes… friends and family and co-workers and acquaintances, all facing the effects of our fallen world in very real and personal wars.
History shows me that humanity will rise up— that even though we may be faced with dark days, we will live to see the sun rise again. There is courage and great resolve wired in our DNA. Our ancestors didn’t give up, and neither shall we. I believe those heroes of old could look past the present day and see a greater tomorrow. They knew that as short as this life might be, the courage and integrity they lived out would live on and inspire a whole nation to make a much better world. That is our heritage; that is what we should strive to do: live strongly and live well, think seriously about the legacy we each shall leave, and always remember, this earth is not our home: a battlefield, yes, but the spoils and riches lie just beyond.