Wednesday, November 19, 2008
At a time when we stood alone in 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."
Abraham Lincoln on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863
One of the greatest speeches for democracy ever delivered was spoken on this date 145 years ago. It was a time in the storied history of democracies that the United States solely carried the flag based on principles in Lincoln's speech. Europe had reverted back to monarchies and dictators and collectively laughed at the struggles of the lone remaining democracy as we fell, in their eyes, into anarchy. Government by the people...how ignorant a concept...destined to fail. After all, governing is a job for an elite ruling class...the only successful model.
Well, we have the fortune of knowing now how this story plays out. But at the time of President Lincoln, foresight was not so optimistic. History records that partisan politics (just as prevalent as today) caused the Gettysburg Address to be scoffed, even ridiculed, in print from coast to coast. Still, the country needed to hear those words...and would need to hear them repeatedly many more times long after Mr. Lincoln left us. To this day, the 272 word speech conjures feelings of pride and honor...encouragement and perseverance.
Celebrate with me today. During this season of Thanksgiving, be sure to stop and give thanks for the fortitude and wisdom spoken in a little over 2 minutes by one of the greatest men in our nation's history, President Abraham Lincoln. A nation in his words...under God.