People will even risk their lives to be kind. One such story comes from the Battle of Fredericksburg. After a day of heavy fighting both sides awakened on December 14, 1861 to find tens of thousands of wounded and dehydrated Union soldiers lying in the no-man’s land between Confederate trenches and the opposing forces. Both sides endured agonizing hours of listening to the wounded and dying cry out for help. Finally one Confederate sergeant approached General Kershaw asking permission to go to the aid of the wounded Yankee soldiers. The General gave his permission but disallowed the Sergeant’s request to go under a white banner. Suddenly the act of kindness was transformed into one of great risk as the Sgt’s presence in no-man’s land could trigger another day of fighting, with the compassionate soldier caught in the crossfire. It would mean a near-certain death. Nevertheless, a few minutes later Sgt. Richard Kirkland emerged carrying as many water-filled canteens as he could gather and began running back and forth aiding the wounded Yankee soldiers. Surprisingly both sides realized what he was doing and held their fire. Sgt Kirkland continued until all the wounded and dying men had been given water to ease their suffering. To this day a statue still stands at the Fredericksburg Battlefield to honor Sgt. Kirkland for his brave act.

Sgt Kirkland saw the enemy as fellow humans in need and responded at great personal risk. The history of war is replete with men taking great risk to aid others, sometimes even giving their life in the process. This is the ultimate act of kindness and even Jesus pays tribute to such acts saying “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

— Ron Hill