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“…They offered themselves willingly to death in a cause vital and dear to humanity; and what is more a cause they comprehended as such, and looking at it in all its bearings and its consequences, solemnly pledged to it all that they had and were…. When I think of what these men suffered and did… I marvel with a wonder which is admiration…. We have come here, friends, not for things that die, but for things that cannot die…. For human History is not a Dead Sea, it is a flowing river…. “ (Chamberlain, par. 1). Great battles are won first in the hearts of courageous men.

The battlefield is an extension of what an individual envisions within himself. Time happens to us all. There is an opportunity to achieve success and greatness. Whether it comes or not remains to be seen. People are motivated by a lot of things. But the great ones are inspired by serving their fellowmen. Perhaps this is the hardest choice. To lend a piece of oneself to the society and the rest of the world is what matters most in life. Many individuals rely on the valiant and determined efforts of unselfish people. Events and circumstances define destinies, and so does a crop of chosen individuals.

The American Civil War is one of those historical events that bring greatness to a once troubled nation. It is also one war that reveals a figure who will make a significant contribution to a country called America. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain answers the call of duty. His dedication to his fellowmen is beyond compare, and so is his strength in handling the various adversities he faces all throughout his life. This is his story. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain uttered the words during a ceremony in dedication to the Soldier Monument at Gorham on October 18, 1866.

An able and capable military tactician during the American Civil War, he led a victorious campaign at Little Round Top in Gettysburg. It was one of the war’s decisive encounters which turned the tide in favor of the Union army. The little known Chamberlain made a name for himself when he answered the call of patriotism. He became a byword not merely for his brilliant and calm approach in the battlefield but also because of how he handled situations in the midst of war. His organizational skill was exceptional during the critical moments on the field.

Joshua and Sarah Dupee Chamberlain named their first child Lawrence Joshua. The eldest of five siblings would be born on September 8, 1828 in Brewer, Maine. Lawrence, who was named after Commodore James Lawrence who immortalized the words “Don’t give up the ship,” was reared as a French Protestant Puritan which treasured family time, good manners and values. While still young, he was interested in horseback riding, swimming, sailing and nature watching. The discipline instilled by his father would later drive Chamberlain to do well on his studies and farm chores.

His experience with heavy works in Maine would turn him into a serious young man instead of a carefree one. EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Chamberlain’s family had a military history. His father was a former lieutenant colonel in the army who became a county commissioner shortly after retiring. His father’s previous experience would later influence the young Chamberlain to join the army. In preparation for a stint at West Point Academy, Lawrence attended Major Whiting military school. But somewhere along the way, his devoted mother suggested that his son join the ministry.

As much as he wanted to attend West Point, Chamberlain saw no point in pursuing a military career in a still peaceful America. Because he had intentions to travel, Lawrence followed his mother’s wishes and joined the ministry. Instead of Lawrence, Chamberlain began using Joshua ahead of his first name when he went to Bowdoin College in 1848 at Bruinswick. Being away from home made it hard for him to settle down because of the loneliness he initially felt. But it was actually his stammering which made him an introvert. He soon found a way to overcome this difficulty by pouring out the words in a single, sweeping statement.

Handling his speech problem would lead him to gain popularity in composition and oratory contests. As his stammering was kept in check, his shy nature soon faded. Chamberlain showed a strong character to stand by what his beliefs. He often engaged school authorities into discussions when his opinions and principles were questioned. This personality would later strengthen his conviction in dealing with the different situations which he would be dealing later in his life. His brilliance was never limited on academic studies alone. Joshua Lawrence found time to learn the viola on his own.

His interest in music allowed him to enjoy singing. Through self-practice, he was good enough to become the school organist for the mass. FINDING AN INSPIRATION Chamberlain was gradually developing a brilliant and all-around personality in college. But a thing of vital importance would soon emerge while he was attending services at a local Bruinswick church. Frances Caroline Adams who goes by the name of Fanny was a constant sight not only because of her adoptive minister father but also because she shared playing the organ at church with him as well.

Chamberlain fell in love with Fanny and they were engaged at the same time he finished a bachelor’s degree at Bowdoin. Joshua also completed his master’s degree at the same college. A three-year seminary course at Bangor Theological Seminary soon followed. He married Frances Adams in 1855. DESTINED TO SERVE Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain decided to stay at Bowdoin after graduation. In 1856, he became a rhetoric and oratory professor. Looking forward to going overseas as a seminary, he studied a number of languages.

It was this experience which propelled him to become a chair person for the multiple languages division of the school in 1861. His brilliance was reflected in his mastery of nine foreign languages which included Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Arabic, German, Syriac and French. At around this time, Joshua and Fanny Chamberlain welcomed the birth of their children, Grace and Harold into the family fold. The Civil War erupted soon after. Men from Maine enlisted and donned the blue uniform. Chamberlain felt the patriotic spirit to serve so he offered his services to Governor Washburn to the disappointment of his Bowdoin superiors.

Joshua was originally scheduled to travel to Europe on a study grant but declined at the last minute to join Abraham Lincoln’s Union army. Because of his academic standing and achievements, he was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel on August 1862. Chamberlain joined the 20th Regiment of Maine Volunteers. “It is not that these men are dead, but that they have so died… that they offered themselves willingly to death in a cause vital and dear to humanity; and what is more, a cause they comprehended as such, and looking at it, in all its bearings and its consequences, solemnly pledged to it all that they had and were….

This comprehension of the cause—this intelligent devotion—this deliberate dedication of themselves to duty—these deaths suffered in testimony of their loyalty, faith and love, make these men worthy of honor today, and these deaths equal to the lauded deaths of martyrs. Not merely that the cause was worthy but that they were worthy…. God grant to us that lesson of devotion and loyalty be not lost…. ” (Chamberlain, par. 2)

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