Here to return to
THOSE who die for their country should not be numbered with the dead. We must call them by another name. They have nothing in common with those who end in their beds a life that is worn out, a life almost always too long and often useless. Death, which every elsewhere is but the object of fear and horror, bringing naught but nothingness and despair, this death, on the field of battle, in the clash of glory, becomes more beautiful than birth and exhales a grace greater than that of love. No life will ever give what their youth is offering us, that youth which gives in one moment the days and the years that lay before it. There is no sacrifice to be compared with that which they have made; for which reason there is no glory that can soar so high as theirs, no gratitude that can surpass the gratitude which we owe them. They have not only a right to the foremost place in our memories: they have a right to all our memories and to everything that we are, since we exist only through them.
And now it is in us that their life, so suddenly cut short, must resume its course. Whatever be our faith and whatever the God whom it adores, one thing is almost certain and, in spite of all appearances, is daily becoming more certain: it is that death and life are commingled; the dead and the living alike are but moments, hardly dissimilar, of a single and infinite existence and members of one immortal family. They are not beneath the earth, in the depths of their tombs; they lie deep in our hearts, where all that they once were will continue to live and to act; and they live in us even as we die in them. They see us, they understand us more nearly than when they were in our arms; let us then keep a watch upon ourselves, so that they witness no actions and hear no words but words and actions that shall be worthy of them.