by Jessica Clower
The story I’m about to tell you is about two men.
They both shared the same last name, and to each other they were kin.
They didn’t know one another, though they were both from the same town.
And each left their home, and wife, and family to fight on battlegrounds.
A civil war throughout a nation raged that threatened to tear north and south apart.
Six hundred and twenty thousand men died, leaving a barrage of tattered, broken hearts.
Year one…year two… year thee…year four… soldiers and time kept marching on.
Blistered…exhausted…hungry…ravaged…memories that would never be gone.
A mild July day in Manassas, Virginia the major bloodshed would all begin.
Nine hundred would fall on Henry Hill as Union and Confederates clamored for a win.
Cannon fire boomed then echoed and rattled the once peaceful green and grassy land.
The crimson spilt here that soaked the earth would seep through more green hills and later expand.
In quiet, pensive moments, men with leathered hands would into their shirt gently stich their name.
Contemplatively facing certain death, they wanted their body to be able to be claimed.
In haunting places battles were waged on the same ground where battles had been fought before.
Skulls and bones scattered about, fire tore through the Wilderness to scorch and consume even more.
“Home, dear home, such a distant place, will my body ever seek refuge there?
Spare me from this most ghastly fate and the foul stench of this cadaverous air.
Mercy I seek for my wretched soul; please hear my penitent cry and plea.
The blood of my brother I have shed, what dark judgment shall be passed upon me?”
Four years of inescapable horror would decimate solider and family alike.
Then at last the final ebbing came that diminished the abysmal violence that had spiked.
At Appomattox Courthouse a surrender signified the end had come at last.
The barely-living, defeated soldiers had earned nothing more than a safe-conduct pass.
“The bearer has permission to go to his home and there remained undisturbed.”
To this the recipients of this writ commission were not at all perturbed.
The two men I mentioned before, what part in all of this do they both play?
One hundred and fifty years have passed since that mild Virginia, July day.
One is my grandfather with a few greats before his name.
The other is my brother who bears the same surname.
Pulled from the very same hometown, he enters into a new war.
A new embattled generation like our ancestors before.
One hundred and fifty years have passed, but peace it is not found.
Is this the fate our grandfathers wanted to have to us passed down?
Never-ending conflict, if not for one thing then for another.
How many widows and orphans are left when we lose our brothers?
The man who bears the same last name lost his life in that conflict long since passed.
His name is the only thing I know of him, the only thing that still lasts.
Will another man who shares his name also share his fate?
These are the questions of war that a family must await.
Let us pray for the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah chapter two, verse four.
“Nation will not lift up sword against nation; neither will they learn war anymore.”