Ladies & Gentlemen
This day we have observed an ever memorable holiday, set apart forever by a National edict to strew flowers over the graves of the dead as fitting emblems of the loved and lost.
But we comemorate [sic] more than the death and the eternal life of those brave men who sacrificed life, friends, fortune, that our country might be preserved intact, that the Nation might live when the knife of the assassin was at her throat.
Twenty years have rolled by since the wager of battle was won by the arbitriment [sic] of the sword; twenty years since the brave and honored dead we commemorate, and whose names will live in history so long as the history of the Union shall endure [have rested beneath the sod]; twenty years of peace, prosperity, and happiness to the grandest government the sun ever shone upon, won by their sacrifice, bravery, and blood.
It is well for us to remember as [time speeds on] the years roll by to whom we are indebted for the preservation of the heritage bequeathed to us by our forefathers, with the vivid incidents of the wilds of a then unbroken forest for the sake of religious liberty, those men who landed on the rock bound coast of inhospitable New England, and then pledged their lives and their fortunes for the civil liberty which we to-day enjoy.
The vivid incidents of the Revolution and the Rebellion which have made us double free and have re-confirmed our title to these broad acres, are forever graven on the minds and hearts of the American people.
It is eminently fitting, not only that we should celebrate, but that we should teach our children to revere the anniversary of the birth and of the baptism of the Nation, a baptism none the less sacred that it was made in blood.
Our sons and daughters to-day should be as proud to claim American citizenship as were the sons of Rome to exclaim, I am a Roman citizen. In the days of her glory and her power it was the only passport, and the only protection that he needed.
In this more than a century, the civilization of the then 13 original States has pushed onward to the West and the South; the Rocky Mountains have been pierced; the Great American Desert reclaimed; the vast possessions of the Government hitherto unoccupied, have been tenanted with an enterprising and hardly yeomanry; while as a people we have been bound together and brought into juxtaposition and daily intercourse by the vast belts and net works of railroads that cover our land, and ramify to its remotest corners, until we have become indeed one people, free from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Lakes to the Gulf.
To-day it is our blessed privilege to behold the population of our country increased from a few thousand to 52,000,000 of people, her wealth more than proportionately increased, the colored man free; peace and plenty smiling over our fair broad acres, and while the rumors of, and preparation for war are shaking the Old World to its centre, we are sleeping securely in person and property, undisturbed by the roar of canon or the alarm of drums . . .
The animosities, the bitterness, the heart burnings engendered by the late civil war are dying out and yielding to the better, sober, second thought of the American people. To-day we are coming up and out of the barbarism of war; we have buried the hatchet and the sword, it is to be hoped forever; conquered a peace that we trust will endure for eternity.”
One hundred and nine years have rolled over us as a people since or Fathers enunciated the sublime declaration that all men are born free and equal; as grand and glorious to-day and as inspiring to patriotism as when they first enunciated it.
They endured privation and toil to settle the wilds of this then unbroken forest, for the sake of religious liberty they landed on the rock bound coast of inhospitable New England, and there pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for the civil and religious liberty which we have enjoyed.
The vivid incidents of the Revolution and the Rebellion which have made us doubly free, and have re-confirmed our little to these broad acres, will be forever graven on the minds and hearts of the American people.
Source: New York Heritage Digital Collections: https://nyheritage.org