In our streets and squares and churches, in our cities and villages, and in all our houses we come in contact with mothers who have lost their sons or are living in anxiety which is more cruel than the certainty of death.
In their declining years the boys are taken from them in the prime of life. When little children die it seems as if the infant souls scarcely go away, but linger about her who brought them into the world, waiting for the hour when they shall return in a new form, the death that visits the cradle is not the same death that spreads terror over the world.
But a son that dies at twenty does not come back, he leaves no hope behind. He takes away with him all the future in store for his mother, all that she had given him, all the promise that was in him; the pains and griefs and smiles at birth and childhood, the joys of youth, the recompense and reaping of maturity, the support and peace of old age.
He takes away far more than himself it is not his life alone that ends; it is days without number that are suddenly cut off; a line of posterity that is snuffed out; a crowd of faces, laughter, and games, and tiny caressing hands that fall at one blow on the field of battle, say adieu to the sun and return to the earth before they have known it.
All this the eyes of our mothers see even if they do not reckon it, and it is this that makes none of us able at certain moments to bear the weight and sadness of their gaze. And they know it and feel it better than we; this is why they do not rely on our words of consolation; they listen in silence and find within themselves other reasons for living and hoping.
They take up the burden of their days without telling us whence they draw their strength, without imparting to us the secret of their sacrifice, their resignation, and their heroism.