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American Warriors, American Men

Despite being separated by nearly a century and a half, the letters of two infantrymen show the spirit and character of the U.S. soldier.


As Americans mark the 67th anniversary of D-Day today, we would like to remind our readers of the character of our soldiers.

They are patriotic, determined and courageous.

They willingly sacrifice themselves for the good of each and every one of us. Would that we each had their understanding of what's important.

In the June issue of Townhall Magazine, we have a very special feature examining the common characteristics our soldiers have shared since our Founding.

In "American Warriors, American Men," veteran journalist Kathy Jessup shares what she discovered when the families of two soldiers who died for their country shared hand-written letters from the two men -- one who died in the Civil War and one who died in Iraq.

It is truly amazing to see what these two heroes, who were separated by more than 140 years, had to say about family and duty to country.

Below is just a brief taste of what only readers of Townhall Magazine are experiencing in the June issue. Order today to make sure you get the full story -- you'll be thankful you did.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur had never met Pvt. Foster Sisson or Sgt. Gabriel De Roo when he delivered a poignant, 1962 speech on duty, honor and country at West Point. Sisson had been dead nearly 100 years and De Roo wouldn't be born for another 19.

"In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation and that invincible determination, which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people," MacArthur described the American soldier. "From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage."

De Roo and Sisson, Army infantrymen who served on battlefields separated by cause, continents and more than 140 years, are poignant examples of everyday people who possessed these enduring attributes.

As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, battlefield letters preserved by the families of Foster Sisson, a Union soldier, and Gabriel De Roo, an Army enlistee deployed twice to Iraq, reflect shared themes of faith and humanity that lose nothing in the translation of time.

Both men enlisted from rural Michigan communities located 60 miles apart.

Both died in battle.

Their stories are best told by them in the letters they wrote home to the people who loved them as husbands, sons and fathers and grieved their deaths as American heroes.

Foster Sisson served in the Michigan 21st Infantry, pictured above, during the
Civil War. Sisson's family is unable to identify which soldier is Foster.
(Courtesy: Family of Foster Sisson)

Pvt. Foster Sisson's early letters from boot camp described bland military meals and advised his wife on handling the family farm. But as the Civil War became reality, the letters he penned while armaments screamed overhead revealed an increasingly heavy heart and loneliness for his wife and three children. Yet in the midst of America's bloodiest war, enduring hunger and filth, he kept to his oath to protect the Union.

"Don't let Little Clarry forget where I be," Sisson wrote to his wife Sarah, referring to their 3-year-old daughter Clara. "I am afraid she will forget all about me before I get back."

Gabriel De Roo is seen during deployment in Iraq.
(Courtesy: David and Laura De Roo)

Gabriel De Roo also longed for news from home and offered assurance he would remain safe in Iraq.

"I miss all of you very much," De Roo wrote as he began basic training in early 2003. "Please feel free to write if you all get an opportunity; it would be nice to hear about what's going on back home. ... Please don't worry about me, I'll be alright."

As his basic training progressed, it wasn't respite from physical exertion De Roo sought. "Pray that I live as a godly example to those around me and that I give 100 percent all the time," he wrote his parents, later asking, "Send a family picture or two if you have a chance."

It would fall to Sarah Sisson to tell Clara about her "Paw" and Hannah De Roo, Gabriel's wife of two years, to raise the couple's infant son Gabe.

Read the entire compelling piece ONLY in the pages of Townhall Magazine.

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