Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance day

The ancient Greek statesman Pericles gave an oration for the Athenian war dead ("The Funeral Oration"), which is speaks to us today as much as it did to the Athenians in the winter of 441 BC. When he discusses the ideal of citizenship, he speaks across the centuries to the same impulses which drove our citizen soldiers throughout Canada's history:

What I would prefer is you should fix your eyes every day on the greatness of Athens as she really is, and fall in love with her. When you realize her greatness, then reflect what made her great were men with a spirit of adventure, men who knew their duty, men who were ashamed to fall below a certain standard. If they ever failed in an enterprise, they made up their minds that at any rate the city would not find their courage lacking to her, and they gave to her the best contribution that they could. They gave her their lives, to her and to all of us, and for their own selves they won praises that never grow old, the most splendid of sepulchers- not the sepulcher where their body is laid but where their glory remains eternal in men’s minds, always there on the right occasion to stir others to speech or to action.

Lest we forget

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