In 1862 during the Civil War, Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the captain decided to risk his life and bring the injured man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered the man was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.
The captain lit a lantern. Suddenly, he caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was the face of his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war had broken out. Without telling his father, he had enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, Captain Ellicombe asked the permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was denied since the soldier was a Confederate. Out of respect for the father, they did give him one musician. The captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of his dead son’s uniform. The bugler agreed. The tune played that day was the haunting melody known as “Taps,” a tune that is now played at all military funerals.
Would you risk your life for your own child? Would you risk your life for someone you did not know? Would you willingly give your life so that your child might live? Would you willingly give your child’s life so that someone else might live? Be truly thankful. God did that very thing for you and me. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)