Press enter after choosing selection

Lessons Of The War

Lessons Of The War image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The memorial sermón to the Grand Arm y post of this city was delivered Sunday morning in St. Andrews' church by Rev. Henry Tatlock from the text "What mean ye by this service?" Nearly a hundred members of the post and Sons of Veterans were in attendance and listened attentively to the sermón. "In the life of every great nation," said Mr. Tatlock, "there are events which serve to bring into action the essential elements of its power, which serve to disclose to itself and to the world the ground principies of its endeavor and the primal sources of its strength. By a natural impulse and common feeling every nation seeks to keep such events in remembrance. It is pleasant to cali to mind its great achievements. But there is more than pleasure in such commemoration: there is high value. The main course of a nation's life, like that of an individual, is uneventful and commonplace: and happily so. A constant succession of crises begets a life too seriousand intense. Long periods of peace and calm are necessary to its proper growth and full development. But the danger of quiet and commonplace existence is, that the highest purpose of life is forgotton and the real sources of power be disregarded. And against this danger there is no better protection-than to keep in mind those events of the past by which that purpose and those sources have been most fully revealed. . In the history of our nation no event has occurred equal in significance to the civil war of 1861-65, no other which has so completely disclosed the nation's aim and so fully unbared the foundations of her ötrength. To seek to forget that struggle, domestic though it was, were worse than folly. To receive into our confidence and affection our former foes who have been content to accept the lesson so bitterly taught to them and to us is the grateful duty of every patriot and by none has this duty been more fullv and noblv done, than by the magnanimous leaders and soldiers of the war. If any there be who are still animated by personal and political hostihty, they illy reflect the feeling of that noble army of patriots by which the nation's life was preserved and her peace and happiness restored. But while it is incumbent upon all to keep the peace which they have won, to restrain every feeling and choke every word which could in any wise disturb the compact nobly made by Grant and Lee at Appomattox, it is equally our duty and our wisdom to keep forever in mind the principies of our national being which were then newly established. The civil war in America had a doublé character. It was not primarily a political war; It was a moral contest. The cause of the war was slavery. The war did not begin in 1861. It began when the word first went forth that slavery was wrong. When, however, the open conflict came, when the champions of slavery, unable to prevail by argument, resorted to open violence, the national integrity became involved, and the preservation of the Union was now the question: andthousands , of the north, who were indifferent to , the institutions of slavery, sprang to arms to maintain the nation's life. In this way the contest assumed a political aspect and for a time the primal source of the trouble was obscured. Abraham Lincoln, however, did not forget it, and on the first of January, 1863, he probed it to the bottom by the Proclamation of Emancipation. When, therefore, the war was brought to a successful issue, slavery was gone and the Union prese,rved. A more righteous war was never waged than that fought out by the Union army and it is the moral character of the contest which gives to this service its fitness and its valué. You come here, veterans of the war, to join in this religious service, conscious that the cause for which you fought was the cause of right and justice, conscious that those comrades of yours whose graves this week you shall deck again with the fresh flowers of spring, laid down their Uves for human freedom ind their country's life. Vou here bow your knees in prayer and lift your voices in praise lo God, knowing that in that warfare you were His soldiers for righteousness sake. The truth evolved by that struggle is that the foundations of this nation's strength and the warrant of her continued existence are virtue and patriotism. It is an old truth taught by the history of everynation but like all truths nations like individuals have to learn them for themselves, and learn them often by sore and bitter trial. Our nation is so unique, possessing so many advantages, having a system of government which embodies the best thought and highest wisdom of all former experience, having a country, the fairest and richest that the sun in his daily course looks down upon, having a people endowed with an intelligence and energy which are the highest product of the world's civilization. Have we not here new conditions, new possibihties, new elements of strength? Can we not bid defiance to the old and worn-out maxims of the sages? What combination can arise to disturb our peace? What power can cope with the strength inherent in our constitution, in our national character, in our material wealth? To such delusive interrogatories the bloody war, in which you fought, returns the cogent answer. Where was the power of the Constitution the I2th of April, '61? In what did rest the nation's hope, when once the conflict was begun? It rested in the loyalty and patriotism of her citizens. All those other visions of power and strength, how quickly they vanished from the view, when once the cloud of war arose! The cry was then for men, men, true, loyal and brave, and it was the patriots who answered to that cali that measured the strength and endurance of the nation. And where was that patriotism found! In what soil did it grow? By what secret forces was it nourished? It was found where right and justice had found a home. It was found in the society of virtue and in the association of righteousness. True patriotism is a moral excellence of the first order. It does not exist alone. It may be found only in the company of other virtues. The lover ■ of his country is first the lover the eternal principies for which his country stands. Let no ungenerous feeling misguide our judgment. Our southern brethren were less favored than we. It were impossible for the moral visión to be clear in an atmosphere beclouded and darkened by such an institution as slavery. It was the good fortune of the north to be f ree f rom that benumbing prism; and it wss to this moral advantage that the north owed the purity and strength of its patriotism. The conflict which this service is set to commemorate has long since passed into history and its special cause is gone, never to return. But the moral truths which that conflict evoked have a permanent and transcendant value, and the proper object of this service can in no wise be attained except as these truths are freshly implanted in our hearts. It is not alone in time of war that patriotism is demanded. Love of country, which is superior to love of self is the essential quality of the true citizen. No man is fit for public office, whether the highest or the lowest, no man is fit for the right of franchise, who will not suffer himself sooner than allow or cause his country harm. By this principie, how many to-day would be disfranchised. Whoever is guilty of selfish greed, whoever seeks to gain by another's fall, he is an enemy of the state. Whatever man or combination of men seek to restrain or control the votes of citizens, they are the enemies of the state. Whatever man or combination of men seek to direct the acts of legislatures for their own advantage, they are the enemies of the state. Patriotism rests on morality. The stability of the nation is in proporon to the virtue of her citizens. Wrong, injustice, oppression, disregard of others' rights are breeders of contention and a menace to the country's safety. Lovers of right, justice, liberty, and fair dealing are the nation's bulwark and defense. That is the lesson of the civil war. If we and the generations following, heed that lesson, the battles which you fought shall not have been fought in vain. And it is only by heeding that lesson that we and our successors can fitly honor you and the brave men who stood by your side in the" war for freedom and union.