February 18, 2021
As I sit in my home office here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, watching the snow plows clear the latest 6-9 inches of snow we got this morning, I'm mesmerized by the following letter. It has transported me to a hot, desolate empty field in North Carolina in 1914, and then back 50 years earlier to a Civil War battle. The letter was written my Russell H. Conwell, my church's pastor from 1882-1925. He wrote back to his congregation his thoughts since he'd just visited the battlefields and recounted his memories of those days, including a story of a young soldier, Johnny Ring, who died saving his captain's beloved sword. Conwell is best known for founding Temple University, and helping fund many students' educations through funds he earned through his lectures, including his most famous one, "Acres of Diamonds." Below is my typed version, but if you read on you can see Conwell's letter in his own handwriting.