Memorial Day inspires mixed emotions: pride in the valor of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom; sorrow that such self-sacrifice should have been necessary. Pride in past valor may be best expressed in the St. Crispin’s Day speech from “Henry V” (Act IV, Scene iii), delivered by the young king on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt.
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow To do our country loss; and if to liveThe fewer men, the greater share of honour.God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;It yearns me not if men my garments wear;Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,I am the most offending soul alive.No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honourAs one man more, methinks, would share from meFor the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,That he which hath no stomach to this fight,Let him depart; his passport shall be madeAnd crowns for convoy put into his purse: