previous next

[399] That we should be thus firm and outspoken is the simple duty which we owe our own self-respect and manhood—which we owe to our children, who must inherit their fathers' glory or their fathers' shame—which we owe that matchless leader sleeping yonder at Lexington in ‘the Valley,’ whose ‘soul was set in the royalty of discernment and resolve,’ and who, along with the blood, inherited the spirit and the virtues of the old champions of freedom.

Above all, comrades, it is a solemn duty which we owe these dauntless spirits, who have fought the good fight and passed away—who, at the bidding of Virginia and her Southern sisters, went forth to battle in all the joyous valor of youth or stern resolve of sober manhood, counting their lives a worthless thing—whose memory soars high above the reach of malice, and gains but brighter lustre from the ‘touch of time.’

In such measure as we honor the memory of these men—in such measure as we suffer no breath of obloquy to pass unchallenged touching the righteousness of the cause for which they died—so shall be measured to us the respect of those who hereafter shall read the story of that momentous struggle with eyes unclouded of prejudice and passion.

A brave singer of our English blood has sung:

They never fail
     Who die in a great cause.

And yet another rings out in trumpet tones:

Eternal right, though all else fail,
Can never be made wrong.

As to whether these men died in vain, our own lives and the lives of our children can alone give the answer.

If we, their surviving comrades, pondering in our hearts their unshaken resolution in the face of cruel odds, their serene constancy in adversity, rise up from the contemplation of all their stern and gentle virtues, strengthened even to this day for the ‘homelier fray’ of daily life, then they have not died in vain.

If, when we tell our children, gathered about happy firesides, how these men braved driving sleet and torrid sun, and uncomplaining bore the pangs of fevered famine, the ceaseless vigil, and hurt of shot and steel, and all for duty's sake—if in the story they shall plainly read, as quicker stirs their pulses play,

That Life may go, if Honor stay-

then, they have not died in vain.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: