Today President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to the family of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Alonzo Cushing, hero of Gettysburg. I took this shot in 2012, from his gun position. If you can imagine 15 thousand gray coats from end-to-end, you get the idea.
I grew up reading about him, knowing his name. I have no idea why. Maybe his age, 22 years old, drew me? In a weird way, I’m not so sure about the medal though. His peers lived this war, who are we to overturn their decision? Alonzo’s brothers, William and Howard, also went early via the field of battle. It was a very different time then.
We don’t get to choose how we check out, and given the chance, Cushing and anyone else would have rather wanted to go home that day. But sometimes one’s life is the pain, suffering, and honor of a single afternoon. Sometimes we simply do what we were born to do. “Faithful unto Death” is on his tombstone.
Hopefully Cushing and his brothers are boozing it up in Valhalla to celebrate. Alongside all those they fought with and against. So that we could all be free tonight.