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THE MONUMENT'S MESSAGE
BY CHARLES ELMER ALLISON
In front of Manor Hall, Yonkers, N. Y., in which
city this “Message” was delivered, stands the Soldiers' Monument
The polished granite in front of old Manor Hall, combines strength and grace. “ The quarry has blossomed into the air.” Stone and bronze stand out under the stars, defying the storms and the seasons. Stable and beautiful they will stand, saluting the far future, when ours is a buried generation, sleeping "the iron sleep.” A great English poet, whose pen is a gilded scepter, says there are sermons in stones. The granite lips of yonder Color-Bearer are mute, yet they speak to the spirit's finer ear. All of those memorial stones, from pedestal to carved capital and surmounting standard, have a voice. We bring you the Monument's Message.
The costly column is reared on American Soil, and America is the garden of the Lord-great in extent and resources, great in history, great in destiny. Imperial Rome “policed the world.” Her empire extended 3,000 miles in one direction, and 2,000 in another. As to extent of territory, this Nation is a modern Rome.
“What shall we say of a Republic of eighteen states, each as large as Spain, or one of thirty states, each as large as Italy, or one of sixty states, each as large as England and Wales ? Take five of the six first-class Powers of Europe, Great Britain and Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy; then add Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, and Greece. Let some greater than Napoleon weld them into one mighty empire, and you could lay it all down west of the Hudson River once and again and again—three times."
Of the states and territories west of the Mississippi, only three are as small as all New England. Idaho, if laid down in the East, would touch Toronto, Canada, on the north, Raleigh, N. C., on the south, while its southern boundary line is long enough to stretch from Washington City to Columbus, Ohio. The greatest measurement of Texas is nearly equal to the distance from New Orleans to Chicago, or from Chicago to Boston.
Of the resources of the country the half has not been told. We have hundreds of thousands more square miles of arable land than China, and China supports a population of 360,000,000. Transfer all of the people of the United States to the one State of Texas, and the population thus concentrated would not be much denser, if any, than the population of Germany to-day. Who shall estimate aright the value of American fields and forests, mines and mountains, lakes and rivers-nature's highways-orchards and gardens, flocks and herds, and her broad prairie with their miles and miles of waving harvests undulating like ocean billows?
Providence hid this fair land from the old world for many centuries. It was to be “the cradle of an illustrious history." True, the mound builders were here, but they left mounds, not molding influences. The Indians were here; they left only arrow-heads and musical names for our lakes, rivers, and mountains. The Northmen came about the year 1,000; they left only a foot-print. The tide of European emigration was not permitted to follow the Northmen. Well it was for humanity that the Divine Hand kept that tide back, for then was the midnight of the dark ages. “Sometimes the bells in the church steeples were not heard, for the sound of trumpets and drums.” Columbus embarked in 1492, but his ships carried Spanish influences. The great navigators followed the birds of the air in their flight. The God of Nations made those birds pilots to guide Spanish ships away from these shores. Spain gave form to Mexico and South America.
God works with two hands. While He was hiding this rich land, He was shaping the men who should shape its institutions. Before He gave America to the world, He gave the translated Bible and the printing press to Europe; English, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, Dutch, French, and other illustrious emigrants of like type were the “ Creators of Moral America." They were seventeenth century men.
Into that superb century were providentially poured the influences of previous centuries. For hundreds of years Europe was at school, learning statecraft and religion. By the translation of the Bible, “the lowly English roof was lifted to take in heights beyond the stars.” It was from underneath that roof the Pilgrim Fathers came to Plymouth Rock. The Indian's salutation was, not “Welcome, Spaniard,” but “Welcome, Englishman," which, being interpreted, signified, although the dusky savage did not understand it,“ Welcome, the open Bible and love of equal rights.” Yes, the Monument is reared on American soil, and America, vast in extent, rich in resources and possibilities, was providentially reserved for freemen and freedom's temple.
Firm upon its granite pedestal stands yonder shapely shaft. For us it shall symbolize, by its graceful strength, the American Republic, stable and healthful among the nations of the earth. That group of warriors in bronze represent no holiday soldiers. They stand for heroes in flesh and blood-for stern veterans whose fortitude and valor protected the Commonwealth. They recall those years when a shot fired at the old flag aroused the anger of a great people. Who can describe those historic years?
The heavens were suddenly black. Fierce eagles of war flew across the lurid clouds. The awful storm rolled thunders along the sky. Reverberating, they shook the Atlantic coast and the banks of the Mississippi. They crashed over Antietam, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg. Forked lightnings played among the clouds around Lookout Mountain. Fire ran along upon the ground in Tennessee, and in Virginia swamps and rivers were turned to blood. It was the Nation's midnight. The death angel was abroad with unsheathed sword. There was a great cry in the land, for there was not a house among half a million where there was not one dead. Four years the storm raged. The iron hail rattled incessantly, prostrating armed men, and crushing woman's tender heart. It was a deluge of blood. Then muttering thunders ceased; the clouds broke away, and out of the blue sky a dove came, and lo! in her mouth was an olive leaf. More than a quarter of a century has passed. Peace still abides. “Over the cannon's mouth the spider weaves his web.” But while mighty people are busied with great enterprises, they do not forget-cannot forgetthe brave men who purchased peace by their valor and blood.
We recall with gratitude profound and peculiarly tender, the private soldier and sailor. Men praise the brave commanders, and they do well; but what could generals have accomplished without the heroes in the ranks? With swift zeal the rank and file-a great host-sprang to arms. They gathered from near and far. The earth trembled under their tread like a floor beaten with flails.” “ All the avenues of our great cities ran with rivers of burnished steel.” We can hear again their measured tramp, tramp, tramp, and their lusty song, “We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more.” Hark! Veterans, hear ye not again your comrades singing around the flickering fires which lighted up their noble faces, “We are tenting to-night on the old camp-ground.” Listen! Hear again the battle hymn of the Republic, how it echoes down the corridors of the years, and will echo until time is no more:
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call
retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment
seat. Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet:
Our God is marching on.