It is forty-four years since the siege of Vicksburg. The war is dead. The men who fought are going fast, are vanishing from the face of the earth like leaves before the blast of autumn. They were—they are—heroic. We see them so; and through the haze of time and distance, our children's children and all the generations to come will find them still heroic. From the time of Troy to the time of Vicksburg, from the time of Port Arthur to the time of some mighty siege to come, the man of war, no less than the man of peace, has wrought for that great, white peaceful and supreme temple which, above the smoke of all wars, the Infinite in us shall yet raise to greet the Infinite above us. Upon those temple walls, how many friezes of fighting men! The hundred men, to whom we do honor this November day, have their place in those still and deathless ranks, in that procession, vast as is the procession of the stars. ‘A fragment of antique sculpture,’—Yes, but the past instructs the present, and is the bed rock of the future.
By fairy hands their knell is rung,
By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
Their honour comes a pilgrim gray,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay,
And freedom shall a while repair
To dwell a weeping hermit there!
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