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Living Life to Its Top—Each Day—Makes Us Better Writers

“That the joy of life is living, is to put out all one’s powers as far as they will go. … We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of America’s most famous Supreme Court justices shared these thoughts from his experiences as a soldier in the Civil War. These poignant words were part of a moving speech thirty years later in a Memorial Day address at Harvard University.

An eloquent and thoughtful presenter, Holmes was often asked to speak for Memorial Day and veterans gatherings. Ten years earlier, in a speech for the Grand Army of the Republic, Holmes made this moving declaration to his fellow veterans:

“…the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”

It’s fascinating to read this reminisces of Holmes in the decades after the terrible crucible of the American Civil War. A member of the 20th Massachusetts infantry regiment, Holmes spent three grueling years as a soldier. Wounded three times and enduring a nearly fatal battle with dysentery, Holmes suffered through the death and wounding of many close friends. Yet the lesson he draws from this experience is that “life is a profound and passionate thing.”


Read the full article at The Write Conversation Blog

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