Veterans Day: “Our Hearts Were Touched With Fire”

Devils Den and the Oak Witness Tree at Gettysburg

“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.”  – Oliver W. Holmes, Jr., 1884

Although this quote comes from an address that Union veteran Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. gave on Memorial Day in 1884, this particular excerpt seems fitting for Veterans Day, too. He reflected on the experiences known only by those who have served in the military.

To veterans reading this today, thank you for your service and for continuing the American legacy of marching forward with courage and “a mighty heart.”

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