To such as may question the policy or propriety of these memorial reunions, and inquire why these gatherings of the people, which may keep alive the estrangements of the past, we commend the remarks of that eloquent New Yorker, Chauncey M. Depew
, who, upon a similar occasion, forcibly and truthfully declared that ‘vapid sentimentalists and timid souls deprecate these annual reunions,. fearing they may arouse old strife and sectional animosities; but a war in which five hundred thousand men were killed and two millions more wounded, in which States were devastated, and money spent equal to twice England
's gigantic debt, has a meaning, a lesson, and results which are to the people of this Republic a liberal education, and the highest chairs of this university belong to you.’
The ladies of this association, have a just appreciation of the necessity for preserving the truths of history for the future historian, who, with a juster prospective which distance may give, shall write a history of our common country.
They have wisely decided that at each annual reunion, an active participant of the war shall be called upon to portray the life and character of some distinguished comrade, who in the late war yielded up his life in obedience to the laws of his State, and for a cause his conscience told him was right.
The necessity for preserving the data thus collected, becomes more important from the fact that in every war, whatever may be its original merits, writers will always be found to misrepresent and belittle the vanquished; while with fulsome adulation they sing paeans to and crown with laurels the brow of the victor.
Even distinguished participants in such strifes are not slow to yield to importunity, autobigraphic memoirs of colossal achievements scarcely recognizable by their friends, the effects of which are misleading.
In the late war, and by the chroniclers of that war, we were denounced as rebels and traitors, as if the promoters of such epithets were ignorant of the fact that in our Revolutionary war Hancock
and their compeers were denounced as rebels and traitors, while Washington
threw up their commissions to join this despised class.
Indeed, the very chimney-sweeps in the streets of London
are said to have spoken of our rebellious ancestors, as their subjects in America
Therefore, with a conscience void of offence, while we would not and should not forget our hallowed memories of comradeship and of common suffering, we cherish them alone as memories, and seek no willows upon which to hang our harps, no rivers by which to sit down and weep, while we sing the songs of the long ago.
Wars have existed from the beginning of time; and, despite the