Olive Wendell Holmes Jr. was a soldier... Many present day Conservatives strongly dislike him. They accuse him of being a eugenicist (tantamount to being a communist these days,) and his opinion on national security makes their blood boil. If ever there were sunshine soldiers and summer patriots, they are in the modern Conservative movement. Oliver Wendell Holmes was a man of action. His career as a jurist wasn’t forged in smoke-filled offices by arm-chair warriors. Holmes answered the call and put on a uniform.
As a member of the famous ‘Harvard Regiment’… Holmes saw his first action at Ball’s Bluff, Virginia in October of 1861. He was grievously wounded, shot through the lung while leading his men into action. Holmes returned to the ranks only to see his next action on September 17th, 1862, America’s bloodiest day. Shot through the neck and left for dead, he survived a second serious wound to return to the ranks. He would be wounded a third time in his service, rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel of volunteers.
“Comrades, some of the associations of this day are not only triumphant but joyful. Not all of those with whom we once stood shoulder to shoulder—not all of those whom we once loved and revered—are gone. On this day we still meet our companions in the freezing winter bivouacs and in those dreadful summer marches where every faculty of the soul seemed to depart one after another, leaving only a dumb animal power to set the teeth and to persist—a blind belief that somewhere and at last there was rest and water. On this day, at least, we still meet and rejoice in the closest tie which is possible between men—a tie which suffering has made indissoluble for better, for worse….But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.”