Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Memorial Day address May 30, 1884, at Keene, New Hampshire.
But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes beyond and above the gold fields the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.
Thanks to the always excellent Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an organization that all principled young men and women should seriously consider joining, especially now with higher education imploding. And thanks be to God for all Americans who sacrificed their lives so that we may live free on this day, or at least continue to fight to reach the free ideals America was founded on.