There is no wonder, then, that this old town, seated at the very head of this favored region, should have borne herself so proudly, and have remembered so well ‘the breed of noble bloods from whom her people sprung.’
We can never forget them, and we must teach our children how proud their heritage is, and how jealously they must guard it.
There have been eras in the lives of nations which have been prolific of men great in war, great in literature, great in art. This era in the life of our State has been prolific of men great in goodness, great in devotion to duty, great in the simple purity of their lives, and in the good works which live after them to bless and elevate us all. On yonder Stafford hills, but a bowshot off, George Washington
had his boyhood's home.
From there he went out on his great voyage of life, freighted with courage, truth and honor, to return the great hero of the world.
Half a century later, Robert E. Lee
passed the happy summer days of his young life in that old house of Chatham
And I tell you that the lessons he learned there, as he stood a barefooted boy at his mother's knee, did more to make him the great, good knight he was, than all the teachings of the schools.
Hard by, Maury
, that Matthew Fontaine Maury
, whose name your encampment bears, first drew his breath, and in this town began his work, which has filled the world with wonder.
Here, too, Lewis Herndon
lived, that noble Captain
, who, gentle as Sydney, forgot himself to save others.
And his whole duty done, passed with bowed and uncovered head into his Maker's presence, to receive his ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’
And we who are assembled here to-day have seen the men of this generation who gave their life blood freely forth for the cause we all so dearly loved.
There was no paltering with honor in this people then;
only devotion to duty was found in their ranks, when the storm of war rolled over us. Had the men shrunk, these Fredericksburg
women would have nerved and shamed them.
But no man faltered.
The fiercest onslaughts of the war were here, and here we repulsed them all. On yonder hillsides sleep the mute witnessess of that tragic story.
On the slope of Marye's Hill now stand twenty thousand monuments to the valor and the victories of our people.
And on the opposing slope of Kenmore rest the brave Confederates who won those victories—all States of the Confederacy
are recorded there by the gentle, loving hands of our women.