Theodore Roosevelt and Memorial Day

Speaking to the people

Speaking to the people

Memorial Day was agreed to have started in 1866 Waterloo, N.Y. 
As a veteran of the Spanish-American war, Roosevelt was active 
in memorials to fallen American's, and Memorial day observation 
was no exception.  Here are some highlights from a speech at 
Arlington Cemetery he gave on Memorial Day 1902 while President.  
It is important to remember that the aging 
soldiers he addressed had fought in the Civil War.

"It is a good custom for our country to have certain 
solemn holidays in commemoration of our greatest 
men and of the greatest crises in our history. 

There should be but few such holidays. 
To increase their number is to cheapen them. 
Washington and Lincoln the man who did most to 
found the Union, and the man who did most to 
preserve it stand head and shoulders above all our 
other public men, and have by common consent won 
the right to this preeminence. Among the holidays 
which commemorate the turning points in American 
history, Thanksgiving has a significance peculiarly 
its own. On July 4 we celebrate the birth of the 
nation; on this day, the 30th of May, we call to 
mind the deaths of those who died that the nation 
might live, who wagered all that life holds dear 
for the great prize of death in battle, who poured 
out their blood like water in order that the mighty 
national structure raised by the far-seeing genius 
of Washington, Franklin, Marshall, Hamilton, and 
the other great leaders of the Revolution, great 
framers of the Constitution, should not crumble 
into meaningless ruins.
You whom I address to-day and your comrades 
who wore the blue beside you in the perilous years 
during which strong, sad, patient Lincoln bore the 
crushing load of national leadership, performed the 
one feat the failure to perform which would have 
meant destruction to everything which makes the 
name America a symbol of hope among the nations 
of mankind. You did the greatest and most necessary 
task which has ever fallen to the lot of any 
men on this Western Hemisphere. Nearly three 
centuries have passed since the waters of our coasts 
were first furrowed by the keels of those whose 
children s children were to inherit this fair land. 
Over a century and a half of colonial growth followed 
the settlement; and now for over a century 
and a quarter we have been a nation. 

During our four generations of national life we 
have had to do many tasks, and some of them of 
far-reaching importance; but the only really vital 
task was the one you did, the task of saving the 
Union. There were other crises in which to have 
gone wrong would have meant disaster; but this 
was the one crisis in which to have gone wrong 
would have meant not merely disaster but annihilation. 
For failure at any other point atonement 
could have been made; but had you failed in the 
iron days the loss would have been irreparable, the 
defeat irretrievable. Upon your success depended 
all the future of the people on this continent, and 
much of the future of mankind as a whole. 

You left us a reunited country. You left us the 
right of brotherhood with the men in gray, who 
with such courage, and such devotion for what they 
deemed the right, fought against you. But you 
left us much more even than your achievement, 
for you left us the memory of how it was achieved. 
You, who made good by your valor and patriotism 
the statesmanship of Lincoln and the soldiership of 
Grant, have set as the standards for our efforts in 
the future both the way you did your work in war 
and the way in which, when the war was over, you 
turned again to the work of peace. In war and in 
peace alike your example will stand as the wisest 
of lessons to us and our children and our children's 
children. "

This memorial day, attend your local memorial day remembrance. 
Remember, you will be blessed with spending the day with 
friends and family, an opportunity created through a 
sacrifice by others before you.
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