« PreviousContinue »
fibre of moral and mental strength, the soul that steels itself to endure disaster unshaken and with grim resolve to wrest victory from defeat, then the one could not have founded, nor the other preserved, our mighty Federal Union. The least touch of flabbiness, of unhealthy softness, in either would have meant ruin for this nation, and therefore the downfall of the proudest hope of mankind. But no less is it true that had either been influenced by self-seeking ambition, by callous disregard of others, by contempt for the moral law, he would have dashed us down into the black gulf of failure. Woe to all of us if ever as a people we grow to condone evil because it is successful. We can no more afford to lose social and civic decency and honesty than we can afford to lose the qualities of courage and strength. It is the merest truism to say that the nation rests upon the individual, upon the family—upon individual manliness and womanliness, using the words in their widest and fullest meaning.
To be a good husband or good wife, a good neighbor and friend, to be hard-working and upright in business and social relations, to bring up many healthy children—to be and to do all this is to lay the foundations of good citizenship as they must be laid. But we can not stop even with this. Each of us has not only his duty to himself, his family, and his neighbors, but his duty to the State and to the nation. We are in honor bound each to strive according to his or her strength to bring ever nearer the day when justice and wisdom shall obtain in public life as in private life. We can not retain the full measure of our self-respect if we can not retain pride in our citizenship. For the sake not only of ourselves but of our children and our children's children we must see that this nation stands for strength and honesty both at home and abroad. In our internal policy we can not afford to rest satisfied until all that the government can do has been done to secure fair dealing and equal justice as between man and man. In the great part which hereafter, whether we will or not, we must play in the world at large, let us see to it that we neither do wrong nor shrink from doing right because the right is difficult; that on the one hand we inflict no injury, and that on the other we have a due regard for the honor and the interest of our mighty nation; and that we keep unsullied the renown of the flag which beyond all others of the present time or of the ages of the past stands for confident faith in the future welfare and greatness of mankind. gation under which this country is to the men who from '61 to '65 took up the most terrible and vitally necessary task which has ever fallen to the lot of any generation of men in the Western Hemisphere. Other men have rendered great service to the country, but the service you rendered was not merely great—it was incalculable. Other men by their lives or their deaths have kept unstained our honor, have wrought marvels for our interest, have led us forward to triumph, or warded off disaster from us; other men have marshaled our ranks upward across the stony slopes of greatness. But you did more, for you saved us from annihilation. We can feel proud of what others did only because of what you did. It was given to you, when the mighty days came, to do the mighty deeds for which the days called, and if your deeds had been left undone, all that had been already accomplished would have turned into apples of Sodom under our teeth. The glory of Washington and the majesty of Marshall would have crumbled into meaningless dust if you and your comrades had not buttressed their work with your strength of steel, your courage of fire. The Declaration of Independence would now sound like a windy platitude, the Constitution of the United States would ring as false as if drawn by the Abbe Sieyes in the days of the French Terror, if your stern valor had not proved the truth of the one and made good the promise of the other. In our history there have been other victorious struggles for right, on the field of battle and in civic strife. To have failed in these other struggles would have meant bitter shame and grievous loss. But you fought in the one struggle where failure meant death and destruction to our people; meant that our whole past history would be crossed out of the records of successful endeavor with the red and black lines of failure; meant that not one man in all this wide country would now be holding his head upright as a free citizen of a mighty and glorious Republic.
BROTHERHOOD AND THE HEROIC
ADDRESS AT VETERANS' REUNION, BURLINGTON,
1 SPEAK to you to-night less as men of Vermont
It is difficult to express the full measure of obli
All this you did, and therefore you are entitled to the homage of all men who have not forgotten in their blindness either the awful nature of the crisis, or the worth of priceless service rendered in the hour of direst need.
You met a great need, that vanished because of your success. You have left us many memories, to be prized for evermore. You .have taught us many lessons, and none more important than the lesson of brotherhood. The realization of the underlying brotherhood of our people, the feeling that there should be among them an essential unity of purpose and sympathy, must be kept close at heart if we are to do our work well here in our American life. You have taught us both by what you did on the tented fields, and by what you have done since in civic life,