What follows is an extract from Pericles’ funeral oration for the fallen in the first year of the Peloponnesian War.

What I would prefer is that you should fix your eyes every day on the greatness of Athens as she really is, and should fall in love with her. When you realize her greatness, then reflect that what made her great was 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 should 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 in which their bodies are 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.

For great men have the whole earth as their memorial. It is not only the inscriptions on their graves in their own country that mark them out; no, in foreign lands also, not in any visible form but in people’s hearts, their memory abides and grows. It is for you to try to be like them.

Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”

 

A Memorial Day Message From the Peloponnesian War

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Dedicated to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

(Featured Image Courtesy: Reddit. LCpl Chris Sanderson (rear) and Sgt Travis Dawson (front) protect an Afghan man and his child against Taliban fire during Op Moshtarak in Marjah, Helmand Province – 02/13/2010.)

This article previously published by SOFREP 05.25.2015 by Vasilis Chronopolous.