Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Angel of Marye's Heights

This post has nothing to with Iraq, except that it exemplifies the sort of dignity with which we should comport ourselves in any combat situation. This is the Civil War story of Richard Kirkland, The Angel of Marye's Heights.

I recently toured much of the eastern United States with my three oldest children on their Utah Valley Children's Choir "One Nation Under God" tour. They performed in 8 different venues, one of which was Fredericksburg, Virginia. After the Fredericksburg concert, we stayed overnight in the home of Maurice and Alicia McBride. We got up early the next morning so that we would have some extra time, and Alicia was so kind as to give us a tour of some of the sites of the Battle of Fredericksburg. We were able to visit Marye's Heights, where a statue stands dedicated to one of the most selfless individuals of the American Civil War, Richard Kirkland.

Here is a summation of his story:

For the next two days Union troops were unable to find peace. Confederate snipers took advantage of their positions atop Willis Hill to pick off the unlucky Federal troops concentrating at the edge of Fredericksburg. It was on the bitterly-cold night of December 15 that Confederate Sergeant Richard Kirkland, his conscience unable to endure the ghastly sounds of suffering coming from the Union positions, risked his life by crossing the stone wall and providing the fallen Union troops with aid and water. This small act of human decency in the middle of such savage brutality is today remembered by a nearby monument dedicated to "The Angel of Marye’s Heights."

Good things can happen, even in battle. When the combat ends, we should each hope that we can return home with a clear conscience. Richard Kirkland reminds us that we can all comport ourselves with dignity, even in combat.

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