During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincon wrote a letter to offer solace to Lydia Parker Bixby, who lost her five sons in battle. The President said:
"I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to 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."
Military history is fascinating to me. Perhaps because it showcases heroes with feats of courage that are heralded throughout the echoes of our existence. Throughout history, good leadership provided credit and commendation when due respect and honor were warranted. Commonly, before the 1800s, in Europe, awards were generally only available to high-ranking officers that won their military campaigns, not the common soldiers and sailors that were fighting for their lives and sovereignty. General Washington, in keeping with the notion that in this new land people are created equal, went on to say the...
"road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is…open to all."
Therefore, 238 years ago today, General George Washingon, established the Badge of Military Merit which was created to recognize valorous and meritorious service in action during our Nation’s war for independence. The first to receive this distinction was Sergeant Elijah Churchill, a 26-year-old a member of the 4th Troop, Second Continental Dragoons. Churchill had enlisted in Enfield, Connecticut, and on Nov. 21, 1780, was part of the force that attacked Fort St. George on New York's Long Island.
America's Department of War then developed the Wound Chevron as a replacement insignia for the short-lived Army Wound Ribbon of 1917. This chevron was available all three branches of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps personnel who had been wounded in combat.
The Purple Heart is the oldest military distinction still given to U.S. military members. It is a military decoration awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917. Since that day in 1917, 1.8 million service members have been decorated with America's oldest military distinction.
The first experience I encountered knowing a Purple Heart recipient was my high school pal, Corporal Joshua McKay Moore. We graduated and he went to serve in active duty Army and I decided to focus my efforts to work in Youth Ministry. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany. On May 30th, 2007 Josh, along with Sergeant Bacilio E. Cuellar and Corporal James E. Lundin, died of wounds sustained when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
Today, Whiskey Soldier honors Josh Moore, and the near 2 million other United States Armed Forces service members that have gone above and beyond the call of service and sacrificed their lives, minds, and bodies to protect the citizens and interests of America.
The amazing bravery and heroism of these incredible Patriots are truly remarkable. Along with the men and women that braved the dangers of war and conflict, it is important to remember the Gold Star Families that carry the burden of our Freedoms with the memories of their loved and lost. These beloved Americans are the example of patriotic resolve as they continue to fight to ensure that their loved ones are remembered and honored.
If you would like to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of today, I encourage you to take a listen to a song performed and written by a friend of Whiskey Soldier, Purple Heart recipient, Sal Gonzalez.