Today my family and I did what hundreds of thousands of other American citizens did. We celebrated Memorial Day by watching parades, watching baseball, flying kites, boating, picnicking, and playing with our kids in a country where a tremendous degree of peace, freedom, and prosperity is still enjoyed.
And isn’t that what Memorial Day is all about?
Today we owe our deepest gratitude to the men and women who have served–and are still serving–our country in the most sacrificial way imaginable. For it is because of their sacrifice that we enjoy all the benefits of being Americans.
And so this morning, we began our celebration of Memorial Day by remembering the sacrifice of Lewis D. Sibley and the family who loved him.
On Good Friday, March 30, 1945, Mr. and Mrs. Sibley of Newport, NH, wrote the following letter to their son, Lewis, who was serving his country with the US Army’s 18th Infantry Division in Germany.
Hi Jo Mio–
The first Army is getting the big headlines here, even bigger than Patton’s Third. Warren Winter is in the 9th now so you may see him–he has your address and according to the papers, the 9th and 1st Army line ranged from Paderbourn in the North to Aschaffenburg in the South. If you get into Cassel you are very near Gottingeu where I was so long.
I had a letter from Cedric yesterday full of your praise and a terrible discontent that he is sitting here. The enclosed clipping, he said, illustrates what he will have to say when it’s all over.
Your mother has washed the kitchen curtains this morning and is practicing now; she is going to sing “Were You There When They Crucified my Lord?” Easter morning. I have got her a corsage of white gardenias as coming from you. She is going to Claremont with Northrupp this morning.
(Note added in new handwriting)
Dearest Lewis, I can’t help but see that I’m to have a gardenia on Sunday. But honestly, I don’t feel like wearing it until you come home. But let’s not tell Dad. He wanted to write the letter today so I’ve given up the pleasure except for just this line or two which I feel better if I write. God bless my son and please keep him well and safe, Your loving Mother.
I am writing this in the north living room with no heat on–most unseasonable weather–about 90 degrees yesterday. I have had to go into summer things. We’ll have to pay for this later, I’m afraid.
We are going to call Mrs. Stang sometime over this weekend. We had a letter recently that she had been sick and that Dick had heard from you.
Your mother wears your silver cross all the time with the exception of one night when she went out in the evening and wore the other one.
Dearest Sonny, I can’t help but picturing to myself in the squalor, the filth, the absence of all decencies of living, the awful din, the sights and stench of Death to which you are subjected, and I feel so humble and so helpless.
God grant that you come home to us sound and well–that is our constant prayer.
Vayar con Dios,
P.S. Bill Spanos has been missing since the Von Runstedt breakthrough, but his parents had a letter from him Tuesday morning, and a long letter in his own hand from a German prison camp.
Ten days after posting this letter to their son, Mr. and Mrs. Sibley received a Western Union telegram informing them of Lewis’ death in Germany.
Pt. Lewis D. Sibley died on March 24, 1945–six days before the Good Friday letter was written.
My deepest appreciation goes out to all the men and women serving our country this very day all over the world, and to the families who let them go.