Source: New York Observer
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Dedication of the McKinley Monument”
Date of publication: 19 September 1907
Volume number: 85
Issue number: 38
|“Dedication of the McKinley Monument.” New York Observer 19 Sept. 1907 v85n38: p. 360.|
|McKinley memorial (Buffalo, NY: dedication); Charles Evans Hughes (public addresses).|
|Charles Evans Hughes; William McKinley.|
Dedication of the McKinley Monument
AMERICA in general and the New York State in particular had great reason to
take interest in the dedication on September 5 at Buffalo of a monument to the
memory of the martyred President McKinley. The monument is an obelisk of pure
white marble, eighty-six feet high, resting on a base fourteen feet square,
and placed at the junction of three thoroughfares, where its top will show high
over the trees for a wide distance around.
It was fitting that the dedication of this monument, which is erected by the State of New York, on a site given by the city of Buffalo, should have been attended by about 100,000 people, all of them admirers of the late President, and that the man selected to deliver the address should be Governor Hughes, who has shown such devotion to duty and sterling integrity as chief executive of this great State. Despite a heavy downpour of rain the populace of Buffalo turned out “en masse” to witness a parade of American and Canadian troops—a pleasing exhibition of international good will which preceeded the exercises at the monument.
Governor Hughes delivered an admirable speech, condensed, weighty, timely and trenchant. It was characterized, as are all his utterances, by a high ethical tone. After speaking of the fact that the memorials of a free people are erected to commemorate public service and the distinction of a noble character rather than the exploits of the conqueror lustful of power and the seeker after self-aggrandizement, and referring to the tragic termination of McKinley’s great career, the Governor said: “The vitality of democracy may be measured by the generosity of its tributes to fidelity and its appreciation of honorable motive and public spirit. The people must have faith in themselves, and the zeal which makes progress possible to not only intolerant of treachery to the public interest, but expresses itself in fine enthusiasm for the leaders who have justified the people’s confidence. Cynicism is a destroying canker. And in proportion as we revere those who in the past have borne the burdens of the Republic, gratefully recognize our indebtedness to their service, and profit by the lessons of their experience, shall we prove our capacity to meet the demands and solve the problems of a later day. In our warm affection and our tender reverence for those great spirits who in the providence of God have led us as a people we find the surest basis for our present trust. An ungrateful republic cannot endure.”
A fitting tribute was paid by the Governor to the private virtues of the late President McKinley, in these well-chosen words: “It is a significant and gratifying characteristic of the American people that more than the particular benefit conferred by service they prize the virtues of character which in the course of service are exemplified. Fidelity to friendship, the exquisite grace of a husband’s devotion, the honor of manhood, the beauty of the forbearance of unwearied patience endeared William McKinley to the hearts of his fellow citizens, and in their memory eclipse the glories of an administration flattering to American pride.”
But no memorial address can deal simply with the past and the virtues of those who have passed away, and Governor Hughes did well to add this suggestive prophecy for the future:
“We may see but dimly into the future. We may be confused by the perplexities of our modern life, made the more difficult by the very riches of our inheritance, but, as we set our course by the pole star of truth and justice and conserve the ideals of character which our fathers have taught us to revere, we shall not fail.”
The exercises at the dedication of this monument in Buffalo were very impressive, the deep feeling of the multitude of auditors being shown by the fact that they refrained from cheering, their respect and love for the martyred McKinley being too hearty for surface expression. The address of Governor Hughes as it has been scattered broadcast through the land has brought anew to the attention of the American public the worth of those private and public virtues which were so fittingly combined in the person of William McKinley, who was great in his gifts and great in his religious life, a man of convictions, who feared God, and sought to do the right thing—whether as soldier, Representative, Governor, or President. His character has been an inspiration not only to future Presidents, but also to all who hold conspicuous office or who possess great social influence. Men of the McKinley type can never be forgotten by any Republic that, avoiding ingratitude, would endure.