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The annual memorial service was held in Sanders Theatre last Saturday. President Eliot presided, and Colonel N. P. Hallowell '61 delivered the address.
In introducing Colonel Hallowell, President Eliot spoke of two elements in the personal courage of the men who fought in the war which were especially affecting and worthy of remembrance. In the first place they went through all the squalor, wretchedness and carnage of war without having any clear vision of their country's future.
Secondly, the service these men rendered to their country was absolutely disinterested. No professional interest in war influenced them. No pay, or prize money, or prospect of pension had the least attraction for them. They offered their services and lives to the country, just for love, and out of the determination that, if they could help it, the cause of freedom should take no harm. No mercenary motives can be attributed to any of them. This disinterestedness is essential to their heroic quality. The world has long since determined the limits of its occasional respect for mercenary soldiers. It admires in such only the faithful fulfillment of an immoral contract. The friends we commemorate here had in view no outward rewards near or remote.
To these heroes of ours, and to all soldiers of like spirit in the civil war, we owe debts which can never be paid except in respect, admiration and loving remembrance. We owe them the demonstration that out of the hideous losses and horrors of war, as out of pestilences, famines, shipwrecks, conflagrations and the blastings of the tornado, noble souls can pluck glorious fruits of self-sacrifice and moral sublimity. And further, we owe them a great uplifting of our country in dignity, strength and security.
Colonel Hallowell spoke in a quiet unpretentious effective way that gave him the closest attention throughout.
He began by calling attention to the fact that there never was a struggle in which principle played so great, passion so small a part as in the war of 1861-65. In illustration of this statement Colonel Hallowell gave several interesting examples, dwelling at considerable length on the career of General Robert Lee-his pathetic beginning and ending as a rebel.
Continuing Colonel Hallowell spoke about the meaning of Memorial Day as follows: There should be neither mental nor moral confusion as to the real meaning of this Memorial Day and this Memorial Hall. I unite with the late William J. Potter of the class of 1854, who warns us not to be caught by the sentimental sophistry that since there were valor and heroism and courage and fidelity to conviction on both sides, we may commemorate those virtues of both armies as American.
Fidelity to conviction is praiseworthy, but the conviction is sometimes very far from praiseworthy. Slavery and polygamy were convictions. Such monuments as Memorial Hall commemorate the valor and heroism that maintained certain principles-justice, order and liberty. So long, then, as there is a distinction between the principles of liberty and those of slavery, may this Memorial Hall stand for those who fought for liberty and not for those who fought for slavery.
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