This Memorial Day, you may visit a grave, grill a steak or play games, but you will most certainly not give a thought to William Henry Christman.
Christman was born October 1, 1844 in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, one of seven children. His older brother, Barnabas, was killed at the onset of the Civil War as age twenty, and William assumed the responsibility of contributing to the family’s income as a laborer.
He enlisted as a soldier at the age of twenty and became a Private in the Union Army. Not one month later he was stricken with Rubella (Measles). While 79 soldiers in his division lost their lives in battle, 153 lost their lives to disease. William was one of those.
Pvt. Christman’s Record of Death and Interment shows that at the time of death he possessed one shirt, one pair of pants and one hat, which were sent to his father on June 21.
As the death toll for the War mounted, the logistics of burying the dead required a large burial ground. An 1100 acre plantation, previously owned by the stepson of George Washington was chosen and on May 13th, 1864 the first of several burials took place, that of William Henry Christman. His was the first body interred in what is now Arlington National Cemetery, the hallowed ground of those lost in war. Since Christman’s burial, over 400,000 bodies have been added.
As one man came to symbolize the price of the Civil War, so one man, Jesus, and his cross, symbolize for us the price paid for the forgiveness of sins. He was just one man, God, but the first of many who would profit from his sacrifice.
Have a blessed Memorial Day.