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[136]

‘The day we celebrate.’

The first toast of the evening was, ‘The Day We Celebrate.’ In the world's great calendar the advent of moral heroes is designated by white stones, the birth of mighty conquerors is writ in ruby red; let the 19th of January, 1807, be marked with an imperishable diamond to flash from different faces all the colors of the bow upon the natal-day of one who in peace and war, in success and reverse, has for his single watchword ‘Duty,’ the noblest term in the English language.

Major Charles S. Stringfellow responded to this sentiment. He said:

‘What meaneth the noise of this great shout?’ was the question which the victorious Philistines asked of each other some three thousand years ago when the defeated Hebrews saluted the ark of the covenant as it was brought from its resting-place at Shiloh to their camp at Ebenezer, and the significant question we ask of ourselves this evening is: ‘What meaneth the noise of this great shout?’ with which this assemblage of so many of the representative men of Richmond have greeted a sentiment in honor of a chieftain whose flag was furled at last in the gloom of defeat and despair.

The day we celebrate! The four and eightieth anniversary of that on which, in an Old Virginia homestead by the blue waters of the broad Potomac, another son was born unto our dear old Mother State, destined in the fullness of time to write his name besides her Masons, her Henrys, her Madisons, her Jeffersons—nay, beside that of Washington himself—on the roll of those immortal few ‘that were not born to die.’

Forever and forever, honored be the natal-day of Robert Edward Lee; forever and forever, upon its return as the years pass by in the long procession of the ages, may Virginia's mothers teach their children the story of his matchless christian life and virtues, and Virginia's sons mark that day with drum and fife and all the pomp and pageantry of grand parade, and gather in public meeting and banquet hall to celebrate and honor it!

And right it is, my friends, that we should so do, for of all the events that history takes note of, one of the most notable is the coming of a truly great man to do his work amongst men; to wisely govern and control by the force of a mighty intellect and imperial will; to labor for them, and by his genius add to their comforts and

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