MAP's Reflections on Henry
The news of young Henry's passing was most sorrowful indeed. My sincere condolences to his mother, his family, and his friends. Henry shared more with me than he could ever have known. During the time this fall and winter of my own health problems, his courage and attitude helped put my own more trivial ones into a truer perspective. I marveled at his courage and strength. I admired his positive attitude. He was a fine young man. I consider it a privilege to have made his acquaintance. It was always such a pleasure to hear him speak of his admiration for and interest in U. S. Grant. Permit me to share with you some of the traits I understand them to share.
1. Henry and Grant were residents of northern Illinois. I can't help but wonder if Ulysses looked forward to those winter snowstorms with the same enthusiasm our Henry did. I trust the weatherman was kind to Henry and did grant his wish to see that frozen wonder once again upon his return home from Memphis.
2. At West Point, Grant was one of the first to acknowledge respect for a somewhat odd, eccentric and awkward fellow student, one Thomas (later to be known as "Stonewall") Jackson. Henry, too, always looked for the good in people, spoke with the utmost respect to those he conversed with, and had a positive attitude and open mind.
3. They were both soldiers who did not give up during their battles. Grant is known to be the first ever commander of the Army of the Potomac who did not retreat after being defeated (at the Wilderness). He had the stamina and courage to lead his men forward to continue their mission despite the inherent difficulties. Henry, likewise, did not retreat to feel sympathy for himself during his own private battle. He bravely confronted "the enemy" repeatedly through his pain and treatments.
4. They shared a intellectual mind. Grant admitted after the war that textbook tactics could not always be used in battle. He had to rely on his own thinking to make decisions. Henry had a hunger for learning that is sadly absent in many of our youth today. He appeared to be a strong student and sought out answers to his own questions.
5. Neither gave up as they faced difficult times or defeat. After Shiloh, many were criticizing and calling for the removal of Grant from command because of the way he was surprised by the initial enemy attack and the resultant carnage of that battle. The President refused to dismiss him. "He fights", said Abraham Lincoln. Henry, too, was a fighter.
6. At Appomattox, Grant gave generous and simple surrender terms to the defeated Army of Northern Virginia. He offered General Lee 25,000 rations to assist in feeding his hungry soldiers. He ceased the cheering and victory gun salutes of his own men in that he did not want them exulting over their now prisoners. Henry's heart showed the traits exemplified here of compassion, generosity, and kindness toward those he encountered.
7. Grant and Henry used their final days to share their knowledge. Grant penned his memoirs. Henry typed on a computer to us. From each we have gained more to promote our own learning.
8. Henry and Grant both succumbed to cancer leaving a memorable legacy.
I do believe in Heaven as a place of peace, love and omnipotent knowledge. Henry is surely content to be there. He has the peace he deserves after his struggle, the love he shared with his mother and friends on earth magnified many fold, and the knowledge of things those of us left behind can only be envious of. I trust Henry and his hero, Grant, have already met and shared some hearty question and answer sessions about the Civil War. I'm sure even though Steve was a marvelous tour guide host during the trip to Shiloh that Henry still had more than a few questions about that battle (among many others relating to the Civil War in general) that have now been answered. I envision Grant pinning on our young friend a gold medal just like the only one ever issued during the Civil War by Congress awarded to him for successful and victorious service. Most of all, I see that stern, emotionless, taciturn face of Grant's budding into a smile when he learns there is a little puppy in Chicago who bears the name "Sam" as a namesake.
It is difficult for us to comprehend why things like this happen. They say there is a reason for everything and that a person's life is not ended until they have completed their mission here on earth. If even a little part of Henry's tasks here were to brighten and enhance my own life, then I can say with heartfelt assurance that he was most successful. I will miss his presence.
Please accept my sincere condolences in this time. I pray for God's peace, comfort, and love to bless all of Henry's family and friends, but most especially his mother whom he spoke so fondly of and was so very proud of.
I am Sincerely,
Mary Alice (MAP)
Map is a valued member of the Civil War Forum and did not want to overburden the chat room with her remembrances of Henry, so she decided that this was the best way. For what ever reason, it is very moving! Her recent near death experience made Henry's passing all the more real.
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