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[191]

Mr. Chairman and Comrades.

I esteem it a great privilege to be permitted to meet with you to-night and I pity from the bottom of my heart the citizen of Virginia who does not feel always at home and among friends, in this hospitable and beautiful battle crowned Cockade city of the south-side. I greet you my comrades of Petersburg, as a brother from a sister city, which claims no higher privilege than to share with you the common glories of the past, and who wishes to walk hand in hand with you in all the achievements of the future. It is doubtless frequently asked by those who were opposed to us in the late struggle, and by those who were too young or too craven to take any part in that war, why is it that we old Confederate soldiers love to come together as we do, thank God, and ‘fight our battles over again,’ in the face of the fact, that the world has generally thus far recorded the result of those battles as a signal failure and the cause for which we fought a ‘lost cause.’ Is it natural, they doubtless ask, for men to love to celebrate their short comings and their failures? No it is not. But the reasons we love to meet and to greet each other, and to erect memorials of our war deeds, is that aside from the fact, that our friendships are cemented with our blood we knew during the war and have known better ever since then, if possible, that the cause for which we staked our lives and our all, was the cause of right and justice, and we know that the impartial historian of the future, will be compelled to so record the verdict, when that record is finally made up. Not only this, but we know too that he will be forced to add to that record the further fact, that the pathway of the struggle made by the Confederate soldier for freedom, and for constitutional liberty, is illumined by nought but self-sacrifice, heroism, glory, patriotism and devotion to duty from one end of it to the other.

Knowing these things, then, my comrades, as you and I know them to be true, the ex-Confederate soldier who does not feel his heart aglow and whose bosom does not swell with emotion and pride on occasions and amid surroundings like these, is unworthy of the name or to share in that fame which you and I cherish as a priceless heritage to transmit to our children and our children's children; and one of the greatest incentives which we have for coming together on these occasions is to show to our posterity that we have done nothing to be sorry for or to be ashamed of. But let me ask you a

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