By Dr. Simon Baruch From The New York Sun:
Amid the silent heroes who rest in honored graves on beautiful Arlington’s historic summit was enacted on November 12, 1912, a scene the grandeur of which will illumine the pages of history for all time, modest though it seem among contemporary events. On that day was laid the foundation of a monument to the heroism and self-sacrifice of the soldiers of the Southern Confederacy, of which President Taft spoke as “a shrine and an altar which will be visited in the future by many a faithful pilgrim” and which the assembled women of the South declared to be “a token of love of country in the hearts of the Southern women that had grown into a mighty strength of passion,” and has resulted in the declaration “to the world that the Confederate soldiers and sailors and statesmen shall be remembered forever.”
With the consent and approval of the living representatives of the conquering army this testimonial to a fallen foe is being reared among the graves of their silent conquerors. It was an impressive lesson of “peace and good will to all mankind” to behold the sadly maimed spokesman of the Grand Army of the Republic, Corporal Tanner, who had lived and suffered with the heroic dead of the victorious army, stand with bared head and reverent mien and with his own hand place a trowel of mortar upon the foundation stone of this monument to a fallen foe. On the following day President Taft, the stanch representative of the party which carried the battles for the Union to a successful issue, added luster to his country’s fame by declaring to the assembled United Daughters of the Confederacy: “This occasion has brought you together to celebrate the heroism, courage, and sacrifice of the men of the South. North and South alike should rejoice in the common heritage of courage.” The President’s address bore testimony to the depth of emotion which prompted these and many other words of wisdom and brotherly sympathy.
Is there a parallel in history to this event? Generosity to a fallen foe is the highest test of civilization.
Text of President Taft’s November 13, 1912 speech before the UDC: