for it how soon soever it might come, at my own expense I armed myself with musket and accoutrements, took my stand at the Ocean House
corner, and there with eagerness awaited the first beat of the first drum that sounded in Virginia
the first call to arms.
You remember the profound interest and emotion of that hour.
It stifled all light feelings, and gave to each brow a thoughtful aspect, and to each eye a depth of light which comes only when the heart is weighted with great moving concern.
Men pressed in silence each others hands, and spoke in tones subdued by the solemnity and intensity of their inexpressible feelings.
All knew that when that long roll once sounded, it would thrill the land, and that it would not cease to be heard, day or night, until silenced in victory or defeat.
The long roll beat; and the vulcan sounds of destruction in the navy yard, and the flames of burning buildings and blazing ships told that an unproclaimed war had commenced.
Comrades, is it all a dream?
Sometimes to me and doubtless sometimes to you, absorbed and environed as we are by the present, the war seems a mystical and mysterious thing, and we feel that its reality is in some way slipping from us. If in us who were its active participants there be such tendency, what must it be in those who are taking our places.
It is on account of this tendency to lose the reality and meaning of the great war that I have dwelt on this part of my theme.
And I cannot allow this occasion to pass without availing myself of it—the occasion of the organization of ‘Sons of Veterans,’ who are now before me—to say to them: Believe and know that your State and your fathers in taking up arms, were right.
Fail never to know and learn to know that the posterity of no race or people have inherited from their fathers such a legacy of true patriotism, such sublime devotion to duty, such imperishable wealth of arms as you have received from yours, and let the precious memory of this ennoble you, enrich your spirit, and make you the worthy inheritors of their fame and glory.
The personal reminisence of the war which I next most value and cherish is the feeling with which we made that memorable