Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Gettysburg Address

Why, you may ask is he thinking of Lincoln's Gettysburg address today. I was recently at the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference and Bill Reichert of Garage Technology Ventures, one of the speakers, remarked that Wednesday, November 19th was the 145th anniversary of The Gettysburg Address. He went on to describe his experiences at The Lincoln Memorial In Washington, DC. Bill talked about standing in the Lincoln Memorial at midnight, looking out over the Washington Mall toward our nation's capital Building and reading Lincoln's Gettysburg address, which is inscribed on an interior wall there. This approximately two minute speech was delivered by President Lincoln as he consecrated the fields of the Battle of Gettysburg as the final resting place for more than seven thousand five hundred soldiers (7,500) killed in that momentous three day battle in the Civil War.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been lucky enough to share a moment at the Lincoln Memorial with friends as we toured our nation's capital late at night. The only thing I can add to Bill's memory is the recommendation to leave the Lincoln Memorial and slowly walk along the Vietnam Memorial just a few yards away. These are very powerful memories of the prices thousands have paid for our country.

As our country prepares to celebrate the election of our first African American President and as our armed forces battle in lands far from home, this Thanksgiving I believe we should think about these words from President Lincoln! I will not pretend to explain them. I would hope that we as Americans can live up to not only the words but the deeds of those who have come before us. Not only in the fields of battle of war but on the battlegrounds for liberty and equality for all. Today, I can do no more than ask you to slowly read aloud these words:

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.

If you want something to share with the "video" generation here is a link to the clip from the film Remember The Titans, where Coach Boone (Denzel Washington), talks to the young men on his integrated football team about the meaning of Gettysburg.

As a sign of my hope for our country, we welcome our ninth grandchild Kevin Patrick, born at 5:15 pm, November 19, 2008 who joins his brother Frank! Congratulations, Amer and Pat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I visited the Lincoln monument with my son Josh while attending the USSSA Conference in Washington DC. We did a night tour of the monuments - highly recommended. Like Bob, also found the Vietnam memorial special too; and not to forget the nearby Korean memorial. Hard to pick a favourite - perhaps the Jefferson site. Lets hope Barack Obama can be remembered like a Jefferson or Lincoln. And now Bob and Kathy have more grandchildren than children! best wishes, Ross Gage