I found an MSN article yesterday about First Lt. Alonzo Cushing, a man that sacrificed himself at the Battle of Gettysburg. He just received the Medal of Honor posthumously from President Obama. I also found a good follow-up article in the New York Times. Allow me to provide you with a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Ancestors Fight for Gettysburg Veteran
It was a cloud covered morning on Friday, July 3rd, with General Robert E. Lee advancing with his forces. Battle had begun at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania two days ago. The lines for the Union were already weak and were threatening to fold. Alonzo Cushing, a 22 year old graduate from the United States Military Academy was commanding Battery A, 4th Artillery, a unit with 125 men. Rebel yells could be heard as Confederates charged their position. Lieutenant Cushing took fire in the shoulder, abdomen, and in the groin. He refused to abandon his position for medical care; using one hand to keep his intestines from spilling out, he used the other to take aim and fire his cannon, all while continuing to give commands to his men. He finally took fire in the face and died. Thanks to his extraordinary actions in the face of deadly opposition, the position was successfully defended and the battle was won.
Now, the most amazing part of the story clearly is Lieutenant Cushing's heroism. The second most extraordinary part of this story has to deal with the fact that it took 147 years for this man to be honored. On August 26th, 2014, he received the Medal of Honor for his valor. His descendant, granddaughter Margaret Zerwekh, pressed Congress and the Military for nearly 25 years to get approval. I am impressed with her persistence to fight for a veteran and her loyalty to her family, especially this long after the war had ended.
Obviously it is important to remember the sacrifices these people made during that great conflict. It is easy to think of the casualties of war in terms of units, regiments, brigades, and battalions. It is much tougher when you think of it on a person by person basis. Knowing the name of those that die in war adds a little salt to any victory, no matter how sweet. If you think about those family members of yours, have you had any that died while in service to their country?