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Voices From the Grave
Category archives for: Voices From the Grave

Voices From the Grave
Maj. Sullivan Ballou’s Last Letter to His Wife

| May 27, 2013

Maj. Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife, written a week before he was killed at Bull Run in 1861, is one of the great eulogies of sorrow and divided duty to nation and family. As a memorial to the victims of war, who include survivors, especially civilians, the letter has few equals.

Voices from the Grave:
So Proudly We Fail

| November 12, 2012

In “So Proudly We Fail,” James Agee looked at war films to explain the “unutterable dislocation” between soldiers and civilians, what he described–in 1943–as a destructive “chasm” that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan describe with equal anger today even as the nation goes through the motions of marking its Veteran and Memorial days.

“The Wreckage Was Vast and Startling”: Ernie Pyle on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944

| June 6, 2012

Ernie Pyle on Omaha Beach after the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944 describes a wreckage “vast and startling” along “this shoreline museum of carnage” even as he anticipates inevitable victory for the Allies.

For a Happy Saturnalian Christmas:
How To have A Good Time

| December 24, 2011

Fulton J. Sheen was that rarity of Catholic sermonizers: he was witty, earthy and unfriendly to religion’s two heels : dogma and doctrine. “How to Have a Good Time” is one of his most celebrated sermons from his “Life Is Worth Living” series, from 1957.

The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan in Normandy

| November 11, 2011

Reagan’s speech at Normandy’s Pointe du Hoc on June 6, 1984, commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day, is one of his noblest, especially in retrospect, for what he said about the cold war, the Soviet Union and nuclear weapons.

Malaise from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama: Recalling the “Crisis of Confidence” Speech

| September 17, 2011

Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech is revisited in the more positive context in which it was initially received, when the nation faced an energy and self-confidence crisis. Barack Obama is not in Carter territory yet.

John F. Kennedy’s Speech on the Arts and Robert Frost, Amherst College (1963)

| April 25, 2011

Full text and audio of John F. Kennedy’s Amherst College speech on the arts in 1963, one of the most eloquent defenses of the artist and art’s role in American civilization by an American president.

Eleanor Roosevelt: If I Were a Republican Today

| November 27, 2010

In a 1950 piece for Cosmopolitan that could have been written today, Eleanor Roosevelt sees through the vacuous sloganeering of the Republican opposition, though she’s not much kinder to Democrats.

Is Anybody Normal?

| November 20, 2010

Sanity is not the natural condition of the human mind, Bertrand Russell argued in this 1934 column, but a product of social life. It is a form of politeness, generated by the pressure of other personalities, which makes us know that we are not omnipotent.

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