“After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.
But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”
– Robert E. Lee, April 10, 1865
I’m not generally one to moon over motivational quotes, uplifting “you can do it!!” memes, or any of their ilk. But I came across this excerpt from a speech delivered by Teddy Roosevelt at the Sarbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910 called Citizenship in a Republic, and it has sort of stuck with me today. It’s a thirty-five page speech that really strikes a chord on page seven…and makes TR seem all the Bull Moosier. I think I shall memorize the short passage…and dust it off whenever I hear anyone (including….um….myself) complain about how the other guy is holding them back:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
If anything, maybe I will just start reciting this aloud in public places…and if I do not get arrested for disturbing the peace, I might inspire someone, with TR’s help, of course.