A week ago, while on vacation in Kansas City, I found myself in a bookstore. I didn't plan on purchasing anything; I was just killing time. We were waiting to see a movie, and since a Barnes and Noble was next door to the theater complex, I suggested we hang out there.
As I walked around the store I made my way to the bargains section. There, a title caught my eye: "Faces of the Civil War." It featured the photo of a man in uniform. He had a determined look in his eye. The book was subtitled: "An Album of Union Soldiers."
Like I mentioned earlier, I hadn't planned on buying anything in the store. But the book was only $8. I figured it was worth a closer look.
I turned the book over to the back side. The headline grabbed my eye: There Are No "Ordinary Lives."
The dust jacket continued: The men whose stories are told in this remarkable book have been called "common soldiers." None of them achieved especially high military rank; none became great celebrities. But all were volunteers who willingly risked their lives to fight for a cause they believed in passionately: preserving the Union.
I read on: Their backgrounds vary widely. They were wealthy and poor, educated and unschooled, city slicker and country boy. Their fates vary as well. Some were killed, others captured, still others won medals for their victories. Some survived unscathed and lived successful postwar lives, building careers, running businesses, marrying and raising families. But many others were grievously wounded, in body and soul.
You have probably already guessed what happened next. I ended up purchasing the book.
As a matter of fact, I am now half-way through reading it. I continue to think about that phrase: There Are No "Ordinary Lives."