Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/250

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


236 Southern Historical Society Papers.

that the command was just and reasonable and necessary by which the Cadets were placed in the field.

And now, thirty-nine years after that memorable day, we meet here to dedicate this monument, commemorative of that glorious event, which is to stand forever as a convincing witness of the valor and heroism of those invincible boys who contributed so much to the achievement of that great victory.

Let us clearly discern and justly appreciate its true significance.

It will stand as a memorial of heroic valour and unswerving devotion to duty displayed under conditions of singular interest, unsurpassed in the annals of war. It will proclaim with an eloquence passing the power of speech, a truth hitherto unrecog- nized in the experience of mankind — that the spirit of heroic self- sacrifice — of "proud submission, of dignified obedience," which has been thought to reside only in mature manhood, was here exhibited in the character and conduct of immature youths, who, on the march, in the camp, and in the storm of battle had dis- played an intrepidity of spirit, a toleration of discipline, and an endurance of harship never surpassed by the hardiest veteran.

It will stand as a perpetual reminder to the succeeding genera- tions of men, of those illustrious characters whose virtues and graces the South offers to history as her loftiest ideals of human excellence.

We unconsciously imitate and grow in the likeness of those objects on which our minds habitually dwell in adoration and love.

Our characters become formed on those principles to which we become early inclined, which we delight to practice, and which we develop by constant exercise.

Carlyle has said: "Show me the man of honor; I know by that symptom, better than by any other, what kind of man you yourself are. For you show me there what your ideal of man- hood is, what kind of a man you long inexpressibly to be, and would thank the gods with your whole soul for being if you could."

A people may be justly judged by those types of character which command their approval, their admiration and their imita- tion.