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ADDRESS AT THE UNVEILING OF THE STATUE TO THE MEMORY OF COMMODORE JOHN BARRY, WASHINGTON,
MAY 16, 1914
John Barry, the first senior officer to be given the rank of Commodore after the reorganization of the Navy during Washington's administration in 1794, was born in Ireland in 1745 and died in the United States in 1803. He emigrated to the colonies about 1760 and settled in Philadelphia, where he acquired wealth as the master of a merchantman. Upon the declaration of independence, he was appointed to the command of a brig appropriately named the Lexington, in 1776, and, while in command of this vessel, captured the tender Edward, said to be the first ship ever taken by a commissioned officer of the United States Navy.
MR. SECRETARY, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN :
I esteem it a privilege to be present on this interesting occasion, and I am very much tempted to anticipate some part of what the orators of the day will say about the character of the great man whose memory we celebrate. If I were to attempt an historical address, I might, however, be led too far afield. I am going to take the liberty, therefore, of drawing a few inferences from the significance of this occasion.
I think that we can never be present at a ceremony of this kind, which carries our thought back to the great Revolution, by means of which our Government was set up, without feeling that it is an occasion of reminder, of renewal, of refreshment, when we turn our thoughts again to the great issues which were presented to the little Nation which then asserted its independence to the world; to which it spoke both in eloquent representations of its cause and in the sound of arms, and ask ourselves what it was that these men
fought for. No one can turn to the career of Commodore Barry without feeling a touch of the enthusiasm with which he devoted an originating mind to the great cause which he intended to serve, and it behooves us, living in this age when no man can question the power of the Nation, when no man would dare to doubt its right and its determination to act for itself, to ask what it was that filled the hearts of these men when they set the Nation up.
For patriotism, ladies and gentlemen, is in my mind not merely a sentiment. There is a certain effervescence, I
suppose, which ought to be permitted to those who allow their hearts to speak in the celebration of the glory and majesty of their country, but the country can have no glory and no majesty unless there be a deep principle and conviction back of the enthusiasm. Patriotism is a principle, not a mere sentiment. No man can be a true patriot who does not feel himself shot through and through with a deep ardor for what his country stands for, what its existence means, what its purpose is declared to be in its history and in its policy. I recall those solemn lines of the poet Tennyson in which he tries to give voice to his conception of what it is that stirs within a nation: “Some sense of duty, something of a faith, some reverence for the laws ourselves have made, some patient force to change them when we will, some civic manhood firm against the crowd;” steadfastness, clearness of purpose, courage, persistency, and that uprightness which comes from the clear thinking of men who wish to serve not themselves but their fellow men.