Declaration of Peace - 1915
To Teachers and Pupils:
Words can not reveal the terrible meaning of war. Pictures and personal descriptions may arouse the imagination to a faint realization of it, but only those who have really experienced it mow the awful definition of the word. It means more than battles, more than wounded and dead soldiers.
Back of the broken homes, back of the destruction of property and life, back of the blight which it lays upon the physical or moral health of a nation—back of all these, lies the deep hatred which it engenders; a hatred which s more cruel and deadly than battles; a hatred that blinds the eyes, stops the warm pulsation of sympathetic hearts and dries up the generous impulses of the soul, that poisons and embitters the life of neighbors, friends, and relatives; a hatred that destroys, sooner or later, every individual or nation which it controls. Such a hatred was one of the worst results of our great Civil War.
How many Memorial Days, with their flowers and tears for the dead soldiers North and South, had come and gone; how many poems had been read and orations given over the graves of the blue and the gray before that hatred had sufficiently subsided to allow a real reunion of the hearts and minds of the people of the whole nation?
The war had ended and the great Lincoln had prayed that the wounds might be healed and that the North and the South might be brought together in perfect unity and permanent peace.
But the hearts of men and women were filled with hate. The altars of the church had been broken apart. Families had been torn asunder. Father and son were arrayed against each other, brother against brother. How this hatred reigned over us to prolong the bitterness and to keep us apart!
But the “better angels of our nature” have triumphed and, fifty years after the close of the war, bitterness and hatred have given place to good will and brotherly love. This year those who wore the blue and those who wore the gray are to meet upon a great battle field, there to attest their mutual respect and love.
The graves of the union soldiers in southern lands will be decorated by the children of the South while the confederate graves in the North will be covered with northern flowers by northern hands. Surely the war is ended and this is the real declaration of peace.
Francis G. Blair, Superintendent of Public Instruction