“... that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” This Memorial Day, I
wanted to honor those who gave the last full measure of devotion by posting
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. As I’m writing this, I’m more worried about the
internal tension in this country than ever before in my 54 years of life. Of
the many wars fought by our brave soldiers to protect our way of life, values,
and freedoms, we can never forget that the deadliest war of all was that waged
amongst ourselves. An estimated 655,000 of our brethren gave their lives during
the Civil War with Gettysburg being the deadliest of all the battles. What
Lincoln is basically saying about the dead not dying in vain is a warning and a
plea to learn the lessons of history so that we are not doomed to repeat the
mistakes of those who came before us. This is, firstly, an individual
responsibility before it can be an expectation for society as a whole. George
Washington said of our newly formed government and country, “The establishment
of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting
human happiness." Our country’s formation has been called the Great
Experiment. What does that mean? It means our country is an experiment in a
people governing themselves vs. some authoritative leader running things
regardless of what the majority of people want. We need to remember that this
experiment is an ongoing experiment and that each of us is a part of it and
each of us bears responsibility for it. How we conduct and treat fellow
experimenters is important. Facts and truth are important in experiments. We
cannot be loose or lazy with these two vital components. By the very nature of
being involved in an experiment, we’re bound to research the needs of this
society and to participate in it with vigor. You may be disgruntled about any
number of aspects of our society and government but the reflection is of
oneself because, as Lincoln so brilliantly observed, we’re a government of the
people, by the people, and for the people.
President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address - One of his many Marcs he left on the world!
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
November 19, 1863