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[366]

And anchored in our souls, along with the creeds which entitle us to hope for Heaven, and to meet our loved ones there, is the faith that history will mete out justice to the Confederate soldier and his cause, and will reverse that verdict which, in the face of righteous plea and earthly precedent has yielded to the influence of ‘the heaviest battalions.’

To ensure and hasten such a verdict, is the holy and patriotic task over which you, my comrades of Lee Camp, have labored so wisely and so well.

By preserving in yonder gallery the forms and faces, and in your archives a record of the deeds and characters of men both great and good, you have entered a perpetual and cogent appeal against that adverse judgment of their cause which rests solely upon our arbitrament of the sword.

Such men are not of the spawn that foul and designing treason breeds. Not of such stuff are traitors made. Not from the thistle do we gather grapes, nor thorns from fig-trees.

And you are handing down to future generations, in the most vivid and appealing form, the incitement to revere and to emulate the heroic virtues and the strong, pure lives, which speak from the grave with testimony strong as the tongues of angels. Thus shall your reward be two-fold; not alone in vindication of our past, but in perpetuation to our children's children of a legacy of magnificent example. A statue of the ancient days bore this inscription: ‘Not to Aristides but to the Aristides, the Just.’ So we make idols, not of our leaders but of their genius, and without such idols a people is also without ideals. Without ideals no people can survive above the level of the beasts that perish. A race, a nation, a civilization, may be fairly judged, and its destiny fairly predicted, by the moral dimensions of its ideals and the veneration it accords them.

Look there, and there, and there. My countrymen! And how shall we despair in the time that is, or that which is to come, of the land we love.

And now, comrades of Lee Camp, it is my privilege to tender to your pious custody, the counterfeit presentment of a real presence well worthy to join yonder goodly company of patriotic warriors.

He was a man in whose character and career the highest attributes of true manhood were illustrated. As a soldier, he was brave as the bravest, loyal to the core, faithful to the end.

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Aristides (1)
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