Friday, May 26, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend Thought: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


From the famous Memorial Day speech by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., a veteran of the Civil War:

So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate. One may fall-at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory.

[Y]ou must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. A notion worth pondering now, when we are at war once again.

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