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  • Writer's pictureLeanne W. Smith

I cannot refrain from tendering

Hoping your Memorial Day was a day of rest, restoration, and sweet memories of loved ones gone before.

The above title is borrowed from one of America's most famous letters, to the widow Bixby who lost a reported five sons to the Civil War battlefields. The letter is the subject of some debate (as many historical artifacts are) with some claiming Abraham Lincoln as the author, and others claiming his personal secretary, John Hay, penned the eloquent words.

Regardless of the phrasing's original authorship, I felt it a fitting phrase indeed for my Memorial Day well-wishes to you.

Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

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.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln.

Headstone in Franklin cemetery where I like to go for inspiration. If only those headstones could talk.

Books I've enjoyed recently include Stephen King's 11/22/63, Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove. Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane, Rachel Cruze's Love Your Life not Theirs, and Christy Wright's Business Boutique. Next up is Delia Owen's Where the Crawdads Sing and Robert Hicks' Widow of the South.

Great music I've been listening to includes The Arcadian Wild's new release, Finch in the Pantry, which was recently #9 on Billboard's Bluegrass chart, and the song Amen by For King & Country, which is helping me see a scene in the current book I'm working on.

4th Book

That book I'm currently working on, my fourth, is set during the Civil War. This may explain why Lincoln is on my mind. I'm in over my head on this one--some might argue I live there.

A friend recently shared a set of letters with me from the 1930s, written by members of the Over-80 Club in Dickson who were alive during the conflict. What a treasure! (Thank you, Tiff Canady.)

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