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 Governor McKinney arose and called the vast assemblage to order. He spoke as follows: As chairman of the Lee-Monument Association it becomes my duty to call this meeting to order, and on the behalf of that organization to express its gratification at this vast assemblage of fair women and brave men who have come to witness the consummation of its labors, to do honor to the memory of Robert Edward Lee, and give to them a cordial welcome. With no disloyalty in our hearts to the Government under which we live, and with no desire to awaken or perpetuate old animosities, we come with sacred memory for our cause—which is lost—with a love and admiration for our dear ones who have fallen, which is unconquerable and eternal. This is the feeling of the Southern people. Some will condemn us; they may as well find fault with Nature's God because He kisses Confederate graves with showers, and smiles upon them with His sunshine, and garlands them with flowers. It is evidenced by this great gathering from every State of the Confederacy. Texas, the most remote, is represented by her gallant soldiers, who fought under Lee and Jackson, commanded by one who was loyal to the Confederacy while it lived, and who loves its memory still—a member of the Cabinet then, and now United States Senator. Louisiana is here represented by the Washington Artillery, which came so early to the aid of Virginia, and did such splendid service upon many hard-fought fields, and, alas! has left so many of its gallant hearts to rest forever upon her soil. And with them is Longstreet, that ‘old war-horse’ who led the First corps of the army of Northern Virginia. Many of his old soldiers are here to-day, and all will greet him with unspeakable pleasure. Georgia is here with many of her noble sons, and with them comes Gordon, whose name is as familiar to the veterans of the grand old army as those of Jackson and Lee. Florida and Alabama are here with their gallant sons bringing fresh garlands of flowers from their beautiful lands to crown the soldier whose statue we will this day unveil. North and South Carolina are here, Virginia's eldest sisters, with
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