for a Day of Remembrance
from the “Great Quotes” files of
Barbara Jean Hicks
128 years ago, on May 30, 1884, the great American statesman, orator and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. delivered an address that included an explanation as to why we celebrate Memorial Day. His words go to the heart of battles of every kind—including those required to live and write with honesty and courage.
In Holmes’s words:
“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 enthusiasm 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 one reach the rewards of victory.”