|Civil War Monument, Cortland, N. Y...|
The Cortland Democrat, Friday, June 3, 1892.
A large crowd of people from out of town attended the memorial services held in this place Monday afternoon. Many of the store windows were handsomely and appropriately decorated and several private residences displayed flags and bunting. The County Clerk's office was especially noticeable for its tasteful display of flowers, flags and bunting. At 1:30 P. M. the column formed on Main street in the following order:
Capt. George L. Warren, Marshal.
Groton Boys Band (42 pieces).
45th Separate Co., N. G. S. N. Y. (43 men).
Canton Cortland, No. 27, I. O. O. F., (20 men).
Grover Post No. 98, G. A. R. [and] Veteran Soldiers & Sailors (60 men).
James H. Kellogg Drum Corps.
James H. Kellogg Camp No. 48, Sons of Veterans, (35 men).
Village trustees and clergy in carriages.
Women's Relief Corps. in carriages.
The column marched to the soldiers monument on Church street where it broke ranks and a quartette composed of Messrs. Philo Meade, M. J. Stanton, S. L. Palmer and Edward Sherwood sang ''Let the dead and the beautiful rest.'' Prayer was then offered by Rev. C. E. Hamilton after which Comrade Mark Brownell delivered the following excellent address:
Comrades of the G. A. R., etc., etc.
Such an occasion and the assurance that only a few remarks would be expected, are the only inducements that could bring me before you today and my only regrets that you should not have selected a speaker endowed with a more fertile brain and a more eloquent tongue, but having consented, I must do as best I may in filling the position assigned to me.
Again we mourn our heroes dead,
And stand above them, keeping
The oldest custom; on each bed
Where lies a soldier sleeping,
We strew the flowers of Spring once more,
And proudly tell the story,
Of those beneath the sod who bore,
Our banner on to glory.
The duties of this day are of impressive significance. It has been said that "it is sweet and honorable to die for one's country.'' We are assembled here to-day to honor our dead, and to deepen our appreciation of the cause for which they gave the last full measure of their devotion; to deepen our reverence for their worth; to strengthen among ourselves the bonds of fraternity by recalling the memory of experiences common to us all; to foster a more generous charity; to take anew our pledge of loyalty to our country and our flag and to promote in the hearts and minds of all who may unite with us the grand principles of duly and patriotism.
Comrades and friends, to-day is the festival of our dead. We meet on this day consecrated by the Grand Army of the Republic to unite in honoring the memory of our brave and our beloved; to honor ourselves by recalling a heroism and private worth that are immortal; to encourage by our loving and impressive service a more zealous and stalwart patriotism. Festival of our dead! Yea, though to-day, throughout this broad land, united by their sacrifices and yours, there are many, many eyes dimmed with tears, many hearts that are heavy with sorrow, though many lives are still desolate because of the father, brother, the husband or lover who went out from them but did not come back; though every grave which your love and reverence decorates today is a shrine of sorrow whose influence is still felt though its first sharp poignancy has been dulled, despite of all, to-day is a festival of our dead; and no less a festival because so full of solemnity and a reminder of our sorrow. And as we go to-day to the silent camping ground of our dead and with soldierly tenderness and love we garland the mounds where sleep our hero dead. It is meet that we recall those who made their breasts a sure defense between our country and its foes.
Blessings for garlands shall cover them over,
Parent and husband, brother and lover;
God will reward those dead heroes of ours,
And cover them over with beautiful flowers.
Let us think of their toils, their sufferings, their heroism, their supreme fidelity to duty in camp, on the long and wearisome marches, in the loathsome prisons, on the battle field, and in the hospitals, that the Old Flag under which they fought and from the shadow of whose folds they were promoted, should never he dishonored; that the country for whose union and supremacy they died may have the fervent, enthusiastic devotion of every citizen; that, as we, comrades, stand by every grave as before an altar, we may pledge again our manhood, so help us God. The memory of our dead shall foster and strengthen in us all a more loyal patriotism.
No Union defenders' grave, from the days of the colonial struggle for liberty, until the present day, should be neglected. We gladly honor the memory of these heroic dead who served in the defense of their country in other wars as well as the late one. We place a flag over the grave of the Revolutionary hero, and also of the veteran of 1812. They both labored to preserve our National integrity and in commemorating the Union soldiers of the war of the Rebellion, the other two shall not be forgotten.
"Tis a beautiful emblem, this covering of graves,
Of heroes who died with sweet flowers and leaves.
And God will but smile on this effort we make,
To remember the heroes who died for our sake.
And sad be the day if we shall ever cease,
To lay on their graves these sweet emblems of peace.
God gave us these flowers; He gave them for all,
And on every grave met by April’s warm showers,
Let’s lay for these heroes some beautiful flowers."
More than 30 years have passed since the days when the Republic was assailed and, the Union of States was threatened—that you Veterans of the Grand Army, left your homes to defend the common heritage of us all to fight for the preservation of the best government the world ever saw.
Many of the older ones here today will remember in what solid columns you went forth to the fields of battle and when the ravages of war had thinned your ranks, how other columns went on to fill the gaps made by the toilsome march. The countless exposures, the desperate battles with the enemy, and finally the victory which gave to all what you fought for—One Union, one destiny and one flag.
When our fathers formed this Union of States they wisely made no provision for its dissolution. They trusted that the time would never come when such a step would be deemed expedient by any party to the bond, but, if it did come, they were sure that other parties would be able to persuade the erring ones to see the wrong. But the day came in our history as a nation when certain of the States were led to forget the blessings of the Union. Then, my comrades, it was your proud duty to teach them their error that the Union our fathers had left us should forever be "One and inseparable," to purchase eternal peace by war and to cement with your blood an eternal monument to freedom the corner stone of which is "equal rights to all men" and which will be for ages a beacon to the oppressed.
For this you fought; not as the soldiers of Alexander the Great, who wept for more worlds to conquer; not as the soldiers of Napoleon of whom it is said:
"His game was empire;
His stake was thrones;
His table earth;
His dice were human bones."
Rome or England for conquest or to oppress; but as no other soldiers fought or can fight in a less worthy cause, you fought to bring back to your divided country, unity and peace, and to those with whom you were at war equality with yourselves and a renewed sense of appreciation of the priceless blessing you wish to share with them.
That you have not fought in vain, the present happy and prosperous condition of your country is sufficient answer.
To you my comrades, on each recurring anniversary of Memorial day when you fall in and march to the spot where your comrades lie burled, each year your ranks are growing thinner, some familiar form and face is missing. He is gone and you are going to lay the sweet flowers upon his grave. Perchance he did not stay to hear the shout of victory at Appomattox. He may have fallen by your side with McClellan on the Peninsula; with Burnside at Fredericksburg, with lighting Joe Hooker at Chancellorsville, with Mead at Gettysburg, or with Thomas at Chattanooga, or with Sherman on the march to Atlanta and "through Georgia" to the sea; and you know not his place of sepulchre to this day yet the poet well says:
"But to the hero when his sword
Has won the battle to the free,
Thy voice is like a prophet's word;
And in its hollow tones are heard,
The thanks of millions yet to be."
The thanks of a grateful people will be to the preservers and defenders of this Union of States, and when the last survivor of the Grand Army of the Republic shall have gone to join his comrades on "Fame’s eternal camping ground," a grateful people will continue the beautiful service of Memorial day to honor your memory, recount your heroic sacrifices and treasure up as priceless heirlooms the souvenirs of you that are left to them. Then, and then only, when the lapse of time shall have still more firmly bound together the
Union your comrades died [for], and you fought to save from ruin, and when, in its majesty and ever growing prosperity, the world shall recognize the loss it would have suffered but for you, then will your sacrifices be thoroughly known and appreciated and your grand eulogy be written "HE WAS A UNION SOLDIER."
The quiet graves of our country's braves
Through thirty June and Decembers
Have solemnly lain under sun and rain,
And yet the Nation remembers.
The marching of feet and the flags on the street
Told once again this morning,
In the voice of the drum how the day had come
For their lowly beds' adorning.
Then swiftly back on Time's worn track
His three decades seemed driven,
And with startled eyes I saw arise
From graves by fancy riven.
The Grey and the Blue in a grand review,
Oh, vast were the hosts they numbered
As they wheeled and swayed in a dress parade
O'er the graves where they long had slumbered.
The colors were not, as when they fought,
Ranked one against the other.
But a mingled hue of grey and blue,
As brother marching with brother.
And a blue flower lay on each coat of grey
Like forget-me-nots on a boulder,
And the grey moss lace in its Southern grave
Was knotted on each blue shoulder.
The vision fled, but I think our dead,
If they could come back with the living,
Would clasp warm hands o'er hostile lands.
Forgetting old wrongs and forgiving.
‘Mong the blossoms of Spring that you gather and bring
To graves that tho’ lowly are royal,
Let the blue flower prevail, though modest and pale,
Since it speaks of the hue that was loyal.
But tie each bouquet with a ribbon grey
And lay it on memory's altar
For the dead who fought for the cause they thought
Was right, and who did not falter.
The line was again formed and the procession marched to the cemetery [Cortland Rural Cemetery] and decorated the graves of the sixty-one soldiers buried there. The column then marched to the armory where the other exercises were held with Comrade Mark Brownell presiding.
Rev. H. W. Carr offered prayer, after which Rev. G. H. Brigham read an original poem which was well received. The quartette then sang, "Let Them Rest." Rev. H. A. Cordo then delivered an excellent address.
The quartette then gave, "There's Rest in the Shade of the Trees." Dr. D. D.
Campbell pronounced the benediction and the audience dispersed.