To celebrate Presidents Day 2023, we are reposting this look at a speech of President Rutherford B. Hayes which we shared on Memorial Day last year.
Memorial Day is being commemorated this weekend and Monday throughout Delaware County in many traditional ways, with parades, speeches, gatherings at local cemeteries, and family gatherings.
The holiday was originally established to commemorate the dead of the Civil War. Only 15 years after the end of that conflict, Delaware native President Rutherford B. Hayes gave a speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
We would like to share an excerpt from that speech with you today on this holiday weekend.
“The battle of Gettysburg will probably always be regarded as a battle which did more than any other to determine the result of the great civil war in the United States. The honored dead who fought and perished here will therefore be forever held in special and grateful remembrance. The great martyr of the conflict was Abraham Lincoln. He by his immortal words spoken here as indissolubly linked his name, fame and memory with the battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln gave his life, and the brave men who responded to his call gave their lives for the Union, for liberty, and for a stable, constitutional government. They believed that our institutions were equal to any emergency, and that they ought to be maintained at the cost of property or of life. If our assembling in this place shall fitly honor the men we now wish remembered with gratitude, it will be because beholding these scenes and contemplating the example of the heroes who made Gettysburg illustrious, we shall be able to estimate more wisely the value of our country and of her institutions, and be better prepared for the duties which, under Providence, have devolved upon us. Let us here give heed to the words of Abraham Lincoln. Let us here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that a government of the people and by the people shall not perish from the earth.”
– President Rutherford B. Hayes