The first book of its kind, Grace Under Fire is an inspiring and spiritual collection of letters and e-mails by U.S. troops and their families from the American Revolution through the War on Terrorism.
Andrew Carroll, editor of the bestselling War Letters, went through his massive archive of seventy-five-thousand previously unpublished wartime correspondence to pick out the most intimate, dramatic, historic, and insightful letters and e-mails ever written about God, religion, and spirituality. The fifty best of these are featured in this incredible book, and they emphasize how extremely important faith has been, and continues to be, in the lives of U.S. troops and their families.
What is especially remarkable about Grace Under Fire is the sheer diversity of the collection, which includes several extraordinary letters by two brothers who fought on opposing sides of the Civil War; a prophetic letter by Rabbi David Goode, one of the famed Immortal Chaplains who gave his life for his fellow soldiers; a lighthearted letter by a World War II nurse who met the Pope; and a profound and impassioned reply to the timeless question, "Where is God in wartime?" by a doctor serving in Iraq.
Warfare can reveal the worst in human nature, but it can also bring out the best, and these correspondences are a testament to the heroism, compassion, grace, intelligence, and inherent goodness of American troops and their families. And although the letters and e-mails featured in this book were written in times of armed conflict, they transcend the subject of war. They are about determination, hope, patriotism, fighting for something greater than one's self, and, of course, the enduring value of faith. Regardless of whether we have served in the military or not, we can all find inspiration and courage in these powerful and insightful words.
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March 06, 2007
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Excerpt from Grace under Fire by Andrew Carroll
The American Revolution
James Williams, Serving in the War of Independence, Tells His Son Daniel That He Is Off Fighting in Defense of Their "Rights and Liberties"
Few letters by U.S. troops who fought in the American Revolution exist today. Compared to other major conflicts in our nation's history, not as many letters were written; there was no postal system to speak of, paper was scarce, and a significant number of soldiers were illiterate. Unfortunately, of the letters that were sent from the front lines (and they were usually hand-delivered through an informal network), many were lost or damaged over time. But what is remarkable about the relatively small number of letters that have survived is how similar the sentiments are to those expressed in correspondence written today. The language is much more formal, but the emotions are very much the same. On June 12, 1779, thirty-eight-year-old James Williams of Hanover, Virginia, penned the following letter to his son Daniel, explaining to him that he is now the man of the house and to place his trust in God.
This is the first chance I have had to write you. I am, by the cause of Providence, in the field in defence of my country. When I reflect on the matter, I feel myself distracted on both hands by this thought, that in my old age I should be obliged to take the field in defence of my rights and liberties, and that of my children. God only knows that it is not of choice, but of necessity, and from the consideration that I had rather suffer anything than lose my birthright, and that of my children.
When I come to lay down in the field, stripped of all the pleasure that my family connections afford me at home--surrounded by an affectionate wife and eight dear children, and all the blessings of life--when I reflect on my own distress, I feel for that of my family, on account of my absence from their midst; and especially for the mother, who sits like a dove that has lost its mate, having the weight of the family on her shoulders.
These thoughts make me afraid that the son we so carefully nursed in our youth may do something that would grieve his mother. Now, my son, if my favor is worth seeking, let me tell you the only step to procure it is the care of your tender mother--to please her is ten times more valuable than any other favor that you could do me in my person.
I am sorry to have to inform you of the melancholy death of Anthony Griffin, which took place on the 11th instant, while out with a scouting party. Alighting from his horse, and leaning on his gun, it accidentally went off, shooting him through the head. He never spoke after the accident. This is a fatal consequence of handling guns without proper care; they ought to be used with the greatest caution. The uncertainty of life ought to induce every man to prepare for death.
Now, my son, I must bid you farewell. I commit you to the care of Providence, begging that you will try to obtain that peculiar blessing. May God bless you, my son, and give you grace to conduct yourself, in my absence, as becomes a dutiful son to a tender mother and the family.
I am in reasonable good health at present, and the regiment as much so as could be expected. The death of Griffin is much lamented. I hope in God this will find you, my son, and your dear mother and the children, all well. My best compliments to you all, and all enquiring friends.