ADDRESS AT THE
DEDICATION OF THE SOLDIERS’ MONUMENT, 1867
57. Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Address,” pages -52
in Ceremonies at the Dedication of the Soldiers’ Monument, in Concord,
Mass. (Concord: Benjamin Tolman, 1867). Letterpress on paper;
half bound in red morocco and marbled paper boards; original printed lavender
paper wrapper retained. Myerson D67. From the Emerson collection
of William Taylor Newton, presented by Edith Emerson Forbes and Edward
Waldo Emerson, 1918.
In 1867, Concord honored its Civil War dead by erecting a memorial obelisk in Monument Square. The ceremonies at the dedication of the Soldiers’ Monument on April 19th included a prayer by the Reverend Grindall Reynolds of the First Parish, an ode by George Bradford Bartlett sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” an address by Ralph Waldo Emerson (a member of the twenty-five man Monument Committee), poems by Frank Sanborn and Sampson Mason, and brief remarks by George S. Boutwell, William Schouler, and others.
Emerson opened his address by calling attention to the significance of April 19th as the anniversary both of the Concord Fight and of the day on which the troops had departed from Concord for Washington in 1861. He closed emotionally, invoking the higher purpose of the sacrifices made: “There are people who can hardly read the names on yonder bronze tablet, the mist so gathers in their eyes. Three of the names are of sons of one family. A gloom gathers on this assembly, composed as it is of kindred men and women, for, in many houses, the dearest and noblest is gone from their hearthstone. Yet it is tinged with light from heaven. A duty so severe has been discharged, and with such immense results of good, lifting private sacrifice to the sublime, that, though the cannon volleys have the sound of funeral echoes, they can yet hear through them the benedictions of their country and mankind.”
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