Over and over again God called upon his people to remember, that they might realize that He had been with them from the beginning, turning evil into good, saving them from what seemed certain destruction, chastening them as a father chasteneth his son; but ever turning what was intended to be a curse into a blessing.
Only by knowing and keeping in mind the past could they have faith to meet present perplexities, and disturbing doubt about the future.
We are here to-night for a memorial service—we are here to remember.
As the years pass these services become more important.
Those who were actors in the great strife for constitutional liberty are rapidly passing away.
Those who are left are becoming feeble and broken, their heads are grayer than the loved uniform they made immortal.
Another generation of men and women have become actors on the stage of Southern life.
They are living amid scenes vastly different from those which thrilled and crushed the heart of our people from 1860 to 1875.
Many of them do not remember how ‘the iron entered into the soul’ of those who were left after ‘65, when ‘envy, hatred, malice and uncharitableness’ held sway over our beloved southland, when a determined effort was made, backed by bayonets, to subject the remnants of a brave and heroic people, who had honestly surrendered to ‘overwhelming numbers and resources,’ to a servile and hostile electorate.
But some say, why revive that hideous night mare?
Nay, my brethren, it was no dream, it was no midnight fancy; it was a stern reality, a hideous fact, it was a part of the wilderness through which we were led, in which ‘there were fiery serpents and scorpions.’
And—‘Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord
thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness.’
It was only by the Lord
's mercy that we were not consumed, and that the ignorance and barbarism of a mixed negro race does not now hold sway in this ‘land of the brave, and home of the free.’
Those brave boys who sleep in Oakwood
fought and died to save us from this thing, and their example stimulated the remnant to determine that they would lie in the cemetery with them before this thing should be. It is not a dream but a disgraceful fact that old Virginia
, the home of Washington
, the father