The Words of Lincoln that the Union Veterans Didn’t Forget

Edmond Nash, Union Soldier Veteran

Edmond Nash, Union Soldier Veteran

Edmond Nash's GAR Grave marker

Edmond Nash's GAR Grave marker

From President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address:
 
 
“…Let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”
 
 
 
 
From the above words spoken by the assassinated Civil War president, war veterans felt they deserved and were entitled to pensions. I’m sure my second great -grandfather Edmond Nash was no exception- being a Union veteran himself. Many of the veterans thought they were owed pensions simply because of their service. The Act of 1890 specifically declared pension eligibilty to disabled veterans with honorable discharges after at least 90 days of service. Prior to that, the matter of who was eligible for a pension had gone through multiple revisions.
 
 
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) fought hard for pension issues. Given the sheer number of it’s members (discharged Union soldiers) it was a force to be reckoned with in political terms. The veterans made the point that they had preserved the Union and the nation; why wouldn’t they deserve a pension? Not all citizens agreed with that notion, believe it or not. However, in the end, the Civil War veterans prevailed. They counted on the government to fulfill the PROMISE uttered by their former Commander-In-Chief Abraham Lincoln. Those words:  “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and her orphan” -are the words they didn’t forget.
 
The Union veterans and/or  their loved ones deserved all that they received-they earned it. They earned it with their blood, fortunes, and lives. Sadly, I’m afraid many really struggled to obtain their pensions afterward- even so. I have another second great-grandfather- Matthias Judd -who spend upwards of 30 years after the war trying to get his pension approved and then increased-based on his physical disabilty resulting from Civil War war service. It’s shocking but not surprising to notice when reviewing his pension files how many times he saw doctors and was turned down. Then when he was finally approved he had to spend years trying to get his disabilty increased. He finally was successful. 
 
I hope and pray that our current veterans have it better. They have earned whatever they get.
God bless them all. It’s amazing for me to think that, they too, have a debt of gratitude owed to Abraham Lincoln. His stirring words continue to be the underlying historical and moral premise for veteran care today.    
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