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Liberty was enthroned, the Union was saved, and the flag which he carried floated in triumph and glory upon every flagstaff of the Republic. What does this monument mean? It means the immortal principle of patriotism. It means love of country. It means sacrifices for the country we love. It means, not only love of country, but love of liberty! This alone could have inspired over two million eight hundred thousand Union soldiers to leave home and family and to offer to die if need be for our imperilled institutions. Love of country alone could have inspired three hundred thousand men to die for the Union. Nothing less sacred than this love of country could have sustained one hundred and seventyfive thousand brave men, who suffered and starved and died in Rebel prisons. Nor could anything else have given comfort to the five hundred thousand maimed and diseased who escaped immediate death in siege and battle to end in torment the remainder of their patriot lives. It is a noble patriotism and it impels you, my fellow countrymen, to erect this magnificent monument to their honor and memory. And similar love of country will inspire your remotest descendants to do homage to their valor and bravery forever. This is what the monument means. The lesson it conveys to the present and all future generations. It means that the cause in which they died was a righteous one, and it means that the cause which triumphed through their valor shall be perpetuated for all time. Charles Sumner said that President Lincoln was put to death by the enemies of the Declaration of Independence; but, said Sumner, though dead, he would always continue to guard that title-deed of the human race. So that it does seem to me that every time we erect a new monument to the memory of the Union soldiers and sailors we are cementing the very foundations of the government itself. We are doing that which will strengthen our devotion to free institutions and insure their permanency for the remotest pos. terity. We are not only rendering immortal the fame of the men who participated in the war by these magnificent structures, but we are doing better than that. We are making immortal the principles for which they contended and the Union for which they died.
Their erection may be a matter of comparatively little importance or concern to the Union soldiers who are still living, but no one can accurately foretell the value and importance of their influence upon the young men and the young women from whom the Republic must draw her future defenders. Every time we erect a monument, every time we do honor to the soldiers of the Republic, we reaffirm our devotion to the country, to the glorious flag, to the immortal principles of liberty, equality, and justice, which have made the United States unrivalled among the nations of the world. The union of these States must be perpetual. That is what our brave boys died for. That is what this monument must mean; and such monuments as this are evidences that the people intend to take care that the great decrees of war shall be unquestioned and supreme.
The unity of the Republic is secure so long as we continue to honor the memory of the men who died by the tens of thousands to preserve it. The dissolution of the Union is impossible so long as we continue to inculcate lessons of fraternity, unity, and patriotism, and erect monuments to perpetuate these sentiments.
Such monuments as these have another meaning, which is one dear to the hearts of many who stand by me. It is, as Mr. Lincoln said at Gettysburg, that the dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation's later birth of freedom and the people's gain of their own sovereignty shall not perish from the earth. That is what this monument means. That is the lesson of true patriotism, that what was won in war shall be worn in peace.
But we must not forget, my fellow countrymen, that the Union which these brave men preserved, and the liberties which they secured, places upon us, the living, the gravest responsibility. We are the freest government on the face of the earth. Our strength rests in our patriotism. Anarchy flees before patriotism. Peace and order and security and liberty are safe so long as love of country burns in the hearts of the people. It should not be forgotten, however, that liberty does not mean lawlessness. Liberty to make our own laws does not give us license to break them. Liberty to make our own laws commands a duty to observe them ourselves and enforce obedience among all others within their jurisdiction. Liberty, my fellow citizens, is responsibility, and responsibility is duty, and that duty is to preserve the exceptional liberty we enjoy within the law and for the law and by the law.