It is not that these men are dead, but that they have so died…that they offered themselves willingly to death in a cause vital and dear to humanity; and what is more, a cause they comprehended as such, and looking at it, in all its bearings and its consequences, solemnly pledged to it all that they had and were…. This comprehension of the cause, his intelligent devotion, this deliberate dedication of themselves to duty, these deaths suffered in testimony of their loyalty, faith and love, make these men worthy of honor today, and these deaths equal to the lauded deaths of martyrs. Not merely that the cause was worthy but that they were worthy…. God grant to us that lesson of devotion and loyalty be not lost….
They gave their best for something held dearer than joy, something of good beyond their personal experience; the giving of which, in this world’s estimation, is of such cost that it cannot be justified by your understanding but only in your overpassing faith.
We do not live for self…. We are a part of a larger life, reaching before and after, judged not by deeds done in the body but deeds done in the soul. We wish to be remembered. Willing to die, we are not willing to be forgotten.
– Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, 20th Maine, Memorial Day 1884, Brunswick, Maine