Our fallen heroes: an address delivered by Hon. A. M. Keiley, of Richmond, on “Memorial day,” at Loudon park, near Baltimore, June 5, 1879.
[As a rule we do not publish “memorial addresses,” because if we were to do so our Papers
would have room for nothing else.
But we are quite sure that our readers generally will thank us for printing the following appropriate and eloquent tribute of a gallant soldier to fallen comrades and to the cause for which they died.]
Of all the affecting pictures with which the great Greek
epic is filled, none, I think, equals in dramatic power and interest that which portrays the melancholy pilgrimage of Hector
's heavy-hearted sire to beg of the remorseless Achilles
, for sepulture, the mangled body of his gallant son. The unnumbered woes and impending fate of his country, the peril of his crown, the slaughter of his people, the extermination of his race — all are forgotten, as, bowing his venerable head in the dust, he clasps his enemy's knees, and, with piteous tears and trembling tongue, begs the poor privilege of rescuing from further humiliation his beloved dead.
In the spirit of old Priam's tenderness and woe, and sharing also Priam's pride, we are here to-day to fulfill a duty not unlike his own — a duty, solemn and pathetic beyond all other services that fall to mortal lot.
At the grave all earthly ills concentre, and Death is man's supreme failure; yet are we here to garland graves, and strew with flowers, failure.
It is an easy office, pleasant and not without profit, to kiss the hands that bear gifts: to crown with victorious laurels the front of success: to welcome conquering steps with triumphant hail: to
crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
Where thrift may follow fawning.
But the hands we honor here to day are empty; our salutation is “farewell,” not “hail” ; not the vaunting bays, but sad-eyed immortelles form these garlands, and profit comes of scorn and slander, not of praise or even justice to these, our beloved dead!
So is it easy, borrowing enthusiasm from the splendors of success, and from the sympathies of those whom that success has benefited, to clothe with the glories of victory the tombs of those who made that victory possible; for such tombs themselves are trophies.
But we stand in the presence of one of these great cataclysms