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  • NYS Writers Institute

Memorial Day 2020: "...grief is not the end of all."

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

“Every year — in the full tide of spring — at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life — there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death …

"But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death – of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will."

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Civil War veteran, future Supreme Court associate justice.

Excerpts from his Memorial Day speech on May 30, 1884, in Keene, New Hampshire.


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