Here it is:
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
I also read, for the first time, FDR's letter to the mother and father of the Sullivan brothers. These were five brothers who all served on the light cruiser USS Juneau in the Pacific during WWII. A Japanese submarine sunk the cruiser, killing them all. I've never had to write a last letter. Thankfully. But reading these letters reminds me that thousands, yes, thousands of letters have been written in the past 10 years alone. I am amazed -- particularly with Lincoln -- that a man can write something so beautiful, so short and so concise, about something so devastating.
And this, the day after a fatal crash of a Navy jet outside of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Three aviators lost their lives. From the Navy Times: Lt. j.g. Valerie Delaney, 26, from Ellicott City, Md.; Lt. j.g. William McIlvaine, 24, from El Paso, Texas; and Lt. Cmdr. Alan Patterson, 34, from Tullahoma, Tenn., were killed when the Prowler crashed into a field around 50 miles west of Spokane, Wash., during a routine training mission.
"I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."