Friday, March 30, 2007

Cherish an Ideal

A brief quote from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on the dedication of the Maine Monument at Little Round Top.

"It is something great and greatening to cherish an ideal; to act in the light of truth that is far-away and far above; to set aside the near advantage, the momentary pleasure; the snatching of seeming good to self; and to act for remoter ends, for higher good, and for interests other than our own.

"To us this people in its life on earth was a moral personality, having a character and a commission; hence responsibility; hence duty; hence right; and its authority. The Union was the body of a spiritual Unity. Of this we were part, -- responsible to it and for it, -- and our sacrifice was its service.

Another part of the speech I particularly liked:

"Now you have gathered these bodies here. You mark their names with head-stones, and compass them about with the cordon of the State's proud sorrow. You station them here, on the ground they held. Here they will remain, not buried but transfigured forms,--part of the earth they glorified,--part also of the glory that is to be.

"No chemistry of frost or rain, no overlaying mould of the season's recurrent life and death, can ever separate from the soil of these consecrated fields the life-blood so deeply commingled and incorporate here. Ever henceforth under the rolling suns, when these hills are touched to splendor with the morning light, or smile a farewell to the lingering day, the flush that broods upon them shall be rich with a strange and crimson tone,--not of the earth, nor yet of the sky, but mediator and hostage between the two.

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