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Cupcakes & Cannons: Remembering The Civil War & The US Christian Commission

I was provided compensation by Family Christian for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.

It’s almost here, the unofficial start to summer and vacations – Memorial Day!

Remembering the Civil War and U S Christian Commission

The first long weekend of the summer season starts soon but why? Why do we celebrate memorial day? 

Until I was about 30 I didn’t realize the significance of Memorial Day. Yes, I realize how sad that sounds but I also know there are many more, young and old alike, who have no idea what this holiday is really about.

Brief History

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of the men and women who have died serving in the United State Military. Regardless of if we agree with war or not we cannot discount the sacrifice they made.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13

Today we honor men and women from all conflicts however Decoration Day originated shortly after the Civil war when graves would be decorated in honor of the Union and Confederate Soldiers who died in battle. The Civil War spawned not only our Memorial Day but also the U.S. Christian Commission.

Brother Against Brother

The Civil War is close to home for us. We live a mere 15 minutes from the Gettysburg National Military Park and the site of the bloodiest batter in the Civil War. Many locals are accustomed to seeing the statues and grave sites but no matter how often we drive through the battlefield, I can’t help but think of the young men who fought for a cause they believed in even unto death, or worse I think, death of their brother.

fighting and killing

A Mission Field

Even in this time of toil and strife the Lord was working.

In 1861 the Young Men’s Christian Association (The YMCA) appointed 12 members to the Christian Commission to work as the central distribution entity for religious works for armed forces. The general goal: “to promote the spiritual and temporal welfare of the soldiers in the army and the sailors in the Navy, in cooperation with the Chaplains.”

The organization set out to meet the spiritual, physical and social needs of the soldiers. Men like D.L. Moody and Walt Whitman helped soldiers on and off the field either leading them to Christ or meeting tangible needs. At the most intimate level, volunteer chaplains from the U.S. Christian Commission were with soldiers as they lay dying on the battlefield leading them to Christ, praying for them or comforting them until they entered eternity. 

Why Remember

When I worked full time outside the home Memorial Day was a welcome day off that broke up the long stretch from Christmas to Summer vacation (Good Friday was not a holiday for us, sadly). It’s so easy to think of ourselves and the present day and forget what got us to where we are.

Then I met Johnny Como and had a cupcake.

John Wega, owner of Johnny Como’s Cupcakes and Coffee is also the head of the U.S. Christian Commission in Gettysburg. I first met John at our church when he came, dressed in Civil War garb, sharing about the U.S. Christian Commission. I then attended a small church in down town Gettysburg lead by John that was a replica church of those of the Civil War era.

Perhaps living in Gettysburg keeps the realities of war in the forefront for me but I encourage you to remember this weekend, and every day that you are not doing what you do without a price. 

Jesus paid the ultimate price for our spiritual freedom and the men and women of the armed forces have paid a high price as well.

We often think of war with hardened individuals savagely fighting one another and in some respects it’s takes a strange level of courage to fight as the men in the Civil War did. Not with strategic drones or tanks but face to face, brother against brother, friend against friend. The Civil War was a war like none other, a war we have not seen before. Yet among the tragedy and horrors or wars faith shines through.

The volunteers of the U.S. Christian Commission risked their lives not to fight but to bring faith to those ravaged by war. They sought to meet the needs of the lost and dying, spiritually and physically.

You may never get to visit Gettysburg or learn about the U.S. Christian Commission from Johnny Como. You won’t get to to visit the church with hand-hewn wooden benches, arsonists destroyed it a few years back. But you can read and about the Civil War. There are tons of great books, fact and fiction available here. And you can honor the men and women who died in any conflict by remembering them on Monday. Pray for their families, thank God that you have freedom, spiritually and physically and if you’re ever in town, grab a Maple-Bacon Cupcake and talk to Johnny.

For great Civil War resources check out Family Christian. This weekend there’s a great 40% off sale too so don’t miss out! Books like The Case for Grace and Before Amen are just a few of the bargins you can grab.


Take 40% off any one regularly-priced item May 22- 25

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