From Gettysburg with Gratitude
Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch and Tony Mussari
The Face of America Project
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. William Arthur Ward
Words On A Page
When it comes to words of inspiration, gratitude and wisdom, William Arthur Ward is in a class all by himself. His book, Fountains of Faith, is a roadmap for anyone who wants to live a life of peace, happiness and contentment.
On the good days, I remember his maxim, “We must be silent before we can listen. We must listen before we can learn. We must learn before we can prepare. We must prepare before we can serve. We must serve before we can lead.”
On the bad days, his advice is even more important, “Today is a most unusual day, because we have never lived it before; we will never live it again; it is the only day we have.”
During a recent visit to Gettysburg both of Ward’s maxims enhanced the experience.
I was flying solo. It was a beautiful day. Traffic was unusually light. The weather was perfect for recording video and snapping digital pictures. Everywhere I went I met people who were welcoming and helpful. A visit with Mandy Moore and meetings with Mayor Bill Troxell, Frank and Bonnie Orlando, AKA General and Mrs. Robert E. Lee, Stacey Fox and Bob Monahan were joyful and productive.
Late in the afternoon, I had some down time, so I decided to visit the battlefield. It was one of the best decisions of the day.
When I arrived at the Pennsylvania State Monument, the sun was beginning to disappear behind the mountains that surround this sacred place where the blood of 51,000 combatants paved the entrance to America’s new birth of freedom. The cornucopia of nature’s pallet was simply breathtaking, and I did my best to capture some of these priceless scenes.
Looking through the viewfinder of my camera, my eyes saw the obvious, while my heart connected with the sights and sounds that filled this place during its moment of honor and valor.
Then it happened, I remembered the words Kitch used to describe her first visit to Gettysburg. “I can sense their presence, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what they did here.”
The Gratitude of Place
Gettysburg is a place that personifies gratitude. Wherever you go on the battlefield, you feel a persistent urge to say thank you for their courage, their selfless service, their love of comrades and country, their belief in tomorrow.
In the silence of this place of honor, you learn that gratitude is the parent of honor.
That message was reinforced during the Medal of Honor Convention in September. Every recipient we met spoke words of gratitude for what others did to empower them to make the right choice and get the job done.
In the stillness of the evening hours at Gettysburg, I felt the transformational power of the most important words in the English language, Thank You. The emotion was just as powerful as it was all those years ago when I first came to Gettysburg with my older brother.
On this Thanksgiving Day, Kitch and I will give thanks for family, friends and the blessings we inherited by birth and citizenship: opportunity, equality and justice for all.
We will give thanks for the support we received in North Plainfield to introduce the next generation to the Gettysburg story and the values personified in the Medal of Honor.
We will express that gratitude in deeds, prayers, words and work. We will accept the inspirational challenge of William Arthur Ward:
God gave you a gift of 84,600 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?
We will remember his sage advice as we continue our work to tell the story of the Face of America at its best:
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To hope is to risk pain.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
From our hearts to your heart we thank you for your kindness and your friendship, and we pray that Providence will bless you with good health, happiness and peace of heart and mind on this day of gratitude and every day of your life.
Tony & Kitch
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