Mr. Commander and Fellow Citizens:
The program has conferred an unmerited dignity upon the remarks I am going to make by calling them an address because I am not here to deliver an address. I am here merely to show in my official capacity the sympathy of this great government with the objects of this occasion, and also to state just a word of the sentiment that is in my own heart.
Any Memorial Day of this sort is, of course, a day touched with sorrowful memory, and yet I for one do not see how we can have any thoughts of pity for the men whose memory we honor to-day. I do not pity them. I envy them, rather, because theirs is the great work for liberty accomplished, and we are in the midst of a work unfinished, testing our strength where their strength has already been tested.
There is a touch of sorrow, but there is a touch of reassurance also in a day like this, because we know how the men of America have responded to the call of the cause of liberty, and it fills our minds with a perfect assurance that that response will come again in equal measure, with equal majesty and with a result Which will hold the attention of all mankind.
When you reflect upon it, these men who died to preserve the Union died to preserve the instrument which we are now using to serve the world—a free nation espousing the cause of human liberty.
In one sense the great struggle into which we have now entered is an American struggle, because it is in -defense of American honor and American rights, but it is something even greater than that— it is a world struggle. It is a struggle of men who love liberty everywhere, and in this cause America will show herself greater than ever because she will rise to a greater thing.
We have said in the beginning that we planted this great government that men who wished freedom might have a place of refuge and a place where their hopes could be realized, and now, having established such a government, having preserved such a government, having vindicated the power of such a government, we are saying to all mankind, “We did not set this government up that we might have a selfish and separate liberty, for we are now ready to come to your assistance and fight out upon the field of the world the cause of human liberty.”
In this thing America attains her full dignity and the full fruition of her great purpose.
No man can be glad such things have happened as we have witnessed in these last fateful years, but perhaps it may be permitted to us to be glad that we have an opportunity to show the principles that we profess to be living, principles that live in our hearts, and to have a chance by the pouring out of our blood and treasure to vindicate the thing which we have professed.
For, my friends, the real fruition of life is to do the thing we have said we wished to do. There are times when words seem empty and only action seems great. Such a time has come, and in the providence of God, America will once more have an opportunity to show the world that she was born to serve mankind.