On Saturday, December 3 2011, the following speech was given at a ceremony honoring Veterans of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 interred in the historic cemetery of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Norfolk, Virginia, by JMMF National Advisory Board Member G. Mark Walsh:
Event Sponsors…honored guests…Ladies and Gentlemen…The James Monroe Memorial Foundation is honored to lay a wreath here in the historic cemetery that is St. Paul’s Churchyard. Although his remains are not here (they rest in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond), our Fifth President was himself a Veteran of the War of Independence. He was Secretary of State during the second Madison Administration and in 1814, Secretary of War…so it is in his memory and in solidarity with the Veterans of the Revolution and War of 1812 interred in this historic cemetery that the Monroe Foundation is pleased and proud to be a participant in today’s ceremony.
It is worthy of note that the man who had been a member of the Continental Congress, a Virginia Senator, Governor of Virginia, and so much more before his Presidency was interested in this area. It was in his capacity as Governor that he knew and worked with Brigadier General Thomas Mathews, also honored here today. As Minister to England Monroe was concerned with the effects of the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair of 1807, and while Mathews worked on military preparedness for the Norfolk area, Monroe pressed for a diplomatic solution. By the time of his return to Virginia as Governor in 1811, Monroe was convinced that a vigorous series of defense installations – what today we would call “Homeland Security” – was required and he and General Mathews continued to fortify Fort Norfolk and other area military facilities. Further, Monroe was keenly aware of the strategic importance of this area throughout “America’s Second War of Independence.”
The lessons of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 were not lost on President Monroe. He sought to implement his vision of coastal defense installations combined with interior military posts, for in developing the Doctrine that bears his name, he knew that telling the Old World to stay out of the New would have little effect without the resources required to back that resolve up.
In summary, let us consider the words of James Monroe himself, when he said: "Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all - liberty!"…and let us never forget, nor our gratitude ever cease towards those who, like the Veterans of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 interred herein, sacrificed so much for our liberty. Thank you.
The Memorial Salute to Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Veterans interred in the Churchyard at St. Paul’s, Norfolk VA.