Dedication of the Virginia Memorial at Gettysburg, Friday, June 8, 1917
By Rev. James Power Smith, D.D.
(Captain and A. D. C., Staff of Gen. T. J. Jackson, Army of Northern Virginia.)
Almighty and ever gracious God--our God and our Fathers' God--"Who doest Thy will in the armies of Heaven and among the inhabitants of earth," grant us Thy grace that in this hour of deep and far-reaching interest, all may be done acceptably to Thee, to the good of every section of our land and to the glory of Thy great name.
We are assembled in a place of great historic event and of memories most sacred and tender; and with uncovered heads in Thy holy presence we hallow these memories. We have here builded a monument to the memory of an army of patriot soldiers and their great Captain--who here fought a great battle--bravely, conscientiously, looking to God for help--and yet went back with banner furled, with brows clear and uplifted, believing that God was on the field. Many of us have come up from the far, broad fields of the South, and here we are met by a great company from every section of the land--and now we stand under one flag, united again, and filled with a like spirit of patriotic brotherhood. For this we thank Thee O God of Peace and Giver of all our blessings!--surely "Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God of Hosts just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the Ages."
Once there was written across this field a great story of warlike power and skill, of unselfish devotion of life and every sacrifice to great ideals of rights and liberties--and these things--the history and the ideals, the rights and the liberties will never perish from the earth. And now we come again with a loftier, sweeter lesson of "Peace on earth, and good will to men"--with a witness to the personal character and spirit of men that led and men that followed, men that fought and men that fell, loftier, more valuable and fruitful and more enduring. In years and ages to come, our sons and all "men of good will" will come from all sections and from all lands to remember them and their unblemished fame, and with one consent will do them honor!
For our country and all the States in this day of cloud and deep concern we implore Thy favor. Let Thy grace be upon the President of the United States, and all in council with him, with the vast responsibility now resting upon them, and upon the Governors of these great States, States so fair to see, so strong in their unity, so richly blessed with a great prosperity; and upon the people of every section, that all may learn "to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with their God!"
Hasten the coming of peace to this troubled and suffering world, and the time promised when men shall learn war no more, and Thy kingdom of righteousness and love shall be established in every land.
Almighty God, whose well beloved Son counted not His life clear unto Himself, that He might win our peace and our redemption, guard and preserve our sons now going out to serve in the army and navy of their country. Let their hearts be right before Thee, and their purposes unselfish, just and strong. Mercifully grant that by their valour and sacrifice, peace with righteousness and mercy may prevail in all lands, great and small. Bring back our loved ones in safety and in the better and heightened manhood, which springs from all unselfish patriotism, and whole-hearted service of our fellowmen.
All of which we ask in the name of the great Captain of our salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Source: Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., Sept., 1917. New Series, Vol. 4, Old Series, Vol. XLII.
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