Submitted by Janet Risinger Currie.
There were many mighty men of valor and many women of greater valor in the war for independence. It is difficult for memory to retain their names or to remember their deeds, and today we speak of them as the men of the revolution. One name shines resplendent above all the rest and stands o’er all for gallantry, bravery, and sacrifice of the multitude, and his name is Washington.
And my friends, it is fast becoming true with regard to the men who fought for the preservation of the American Union. There were almost two thousand general officers in that war, Corps commanders, Army commanders, Division commanders, Brigade commanders, and under them were colonels and field officers, and captains of courage and valor, who did mighty deeds in behalf of freedom and the right. Once their names were familiar in all the neighborhoods from which we hail, but today few can be recalled, and it will not be long until we will be spoken of as the boys in blue, and the name of our great commander, General Ulysses S. Grant, and a few others will alone survive. This my friends is not a matter for regret or for sorrow. Each generation in its day must perform its duty. The duties of each generation belong to that particular generation and is not transferable to any other, and it is a matter of satisfaction for us to recall, we, who are the survivors of the great war, we who are plain people who never were particularly honored by office or fame or wealth, it is a great comfort thus as we reflect soberly regarding the past to know that we in our day and generation did a wonderful thing for our country, for its institutions, and for humanity.
One standing alone could do but little, a hundred of us grouped together could do but little, but when we multiply that by thousands and tens of thousands, and when every home and hamlet in this great country sent the best of her youths to war, to follow the flag in defense of our country, then we had an invincible host, and we accomplished what was said to be impossible of accomplishment. We did the impossible; we saved the Union; we preserved if from destruction, and beside that we broke the chains of slavery and set the black man free, these were wonderful accomplishments. Now today there is a great deal of confusion in this country. It seems that people are disposed to gather in groups, hostile groups; that they propose to determine great questions for themselves and in their own interest. This self determination business has gone entirely too far when every individual wants to be a law unto himself. There is strength only in unity, and our object ought to be to bring about in this country’s hundred millions of people unity, unity of purpose and thought, unity of devotion to the institutions of our country.
There are no two standards of allegiance. The standards in time of peace ought to be just as high as in time of war. And it ought to be easier to discharge the duties of a citizen well than it is to discharge duties of a soldier well. The duties of a citizen seems easier than that of a soldier, but I must call your attention to the fact that no life is worth very much, that is not attended with sacrifice.
It is the struggle and not the prize. The prize is worthless apart from the struggle. And the sufferings here of our brothers of the Revolution at Valley Forge and other places gave glory to the Victory at Yorktown. And the surrender of the Confederate armies to General Grant at Appomattox is only glorious because of the sacrifice of the Wilderness and the losses on the great battlefields that preceded it.
So I say to you my fellow citizens, I say to men and women, I say to you old and young, put into your life sacrifice, sacrifice to duty, sacrifice to your family, sacrifice to your community, and sacrifice to your country, and if we do that America will endure forever.