War both needs and generates certain virtues; not the highest, but what may be called the preliminary virtues, as valor, veracity, the spirit of obedience, the habit of discipline. Any of these, and of others like them, when possessed by a nation, and no matter how generated, will give them a military advantage, and make them more likely to stay in the race of nations.
For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and valor. Of the endless fluid passage of the humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who - one word- love. His soul expanded. But for a moment only. For in him, he felt a warning, a shaft of terror.
Successful or not, acts of physical courage always bring honor. It is the smaller forms of valor - standing up for principle at the risk of social disapproval, economic loss or injury to career - that require the greatest moral will power. Since there is usually little upside to winning and a significant and often lasting downside to losing, moral courage often requires as much character as physical bravery.
A good friend, who knows whereof he speaks, has observed of trials, 'If it's fair, it is not a true trial!' That is, without the added presence of some inexplicableness and some irony and injustice, the experience may not stretch us or lift us sufficiently. The crucifixion of Christ was clearly the greatest injustice in human history, but the Savior bore up under it with majesty and indescribable valor.
I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.
I am less affected by their heroism who stood up for half an hour in the front line at Buena Vista, than by the steady and cheerful valor of the men who inhabit the snow-plow for their winter quarters; who have not merely the three-o'-clock-in-the-morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest, but whose courage does not go to rest so early, who go to sleep only when the storm sleeps or the sinews of their iron steed are frozen.