To Our Fallen Comrades:
These were honorable men in their generations.
I take the War list, and I run down it. Name after name, which I can not read, and which we who are older than you can not hear without emotion. Names which will only be names to you, the new college, but which to us summon up face after face full of honesty and goodness, zeal and vigor, and intellectual prowess. ...
And now by tragic necessity their dreams have become yours. Let me exhort you: Examine yourselves. Let each of you discover where your true chance of greatness lies. For their sakes, for the sakes of your college and your country, seize this chance, rejoice in it, and let no power or persuasion deter you in your task.
After fleeing from Kentucky to Ohio, Paul Laurence Dunbar's father served in the Fifty-Fifth Massachusetts regiment. In The Colored Soldiers Dunbar expressed pride in their service as well as the belief that their service had vindicated the "Sons of Ham:"
And their deeds shall find a record
In the registry of Fame;
For their blood has cleansed completely
Every blot of slavery's shame.
So all honor and all glory
To those noble sons of Ham-
The gallant colored soldiers
Who fought for Uncle Sam!
No vision of the morrow's strife