Great Memorial Day related quote (and speech)

In doing some research recently, I ran across a famous speech which I had never read before: Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1884 Memorial Day Speech.

It’s really beautiful, if you’ve never read it.  There is a website about it (here) if you would like to read it yourself and experience some really good writing/speaking related to the day.  But in particular, there was a line that really stood out to me:

“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.”

Wow.  “…the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.”  I’m not sure that I will ever read Ecclesiastes 9:10 again without thinking about this sentence — at least I will not for some time.

The speech is pretty fancy-schmancy for some tastes, but if you do read it and come across a particular turn of phrase or a picture-painting sentence that grabs you, feel free to tell me about it in the comments.

One thought on “Great Memorial Day related quote (and speech)

  1. I like the sentences that come just before your quote. A minor change makes it reminiscent of the lives of the few who have survived the trials in the Church of God these past thirty years and more:

    “But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the [Work] has been set apart by its experience. Through our great [God’s blessing], 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.”

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