The Volunteer Spirit

In July, the Library of Congress finished a crowd sourced project to complete the transcription of over 10,000 documents in its collection of Lincoln papers.

Most are letters with complaints, pleas, job requests and military reports. Some are in French, German or Italian. Many are personal such as the desire of a Navy Officer to marry, to which Lincoln responded to the Secretary of the Navy: “please allow him the requisite leave of absence, if the public service can safely endure it.”

One of the most stunning messages for me was a letter from a 65-year old would-be Army volunteer from western New York. He wrote in March 1864:

Father Abraham

I am 65 years old am able to do a fair days work (not the hardest kind of work) day after day am willing to go to the army, or rather into some fort or Garison, where there will be no long marches, was never a good traveler but worker will help you work out our national salvation will go free of any charge to Government except travel and rations Avery Coon is a stout man of about my age will go too to a Fort or Garison he may need the usual pay will be a good hand

We have Faith in God and dry Powder

Truly Yours Daniel Edwards

The question for credit unions: What is the belief and “dry powder” motivating your volunteers?

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