I wanted to write something for Memorial Day but my own words fail me. I don't think I can appreciate to the fullest what this Holiday is to mean and I think it is lost to most of us lazy, ungrateful Americans who forget our past and the sacrifices made on our behalf. Even now as our nation is currently at war, if it doesnt touch us close or know someone personaly it is easy to think it is a far off thing that can go to the back of our mind.
My son is starting to be a Civil War buff. They covered it in his 5th grade social studies class this year and for what ever reason he really enjoys learning about that era. When they have shows on the History Channel or Discovery he drives me nuts by pre-programming them in and often times it is on after his bed time. He leaves books all over the house and now and then I pick them up and actually see what my boy is learning. In the upstairs bathroom he had one about the Gettysburg Address.
Now I am sure I have read the story before and who hasn't heard the Address it's self in every elementary school but I gleaned new things from reading it again as I sat on the throne or the thinking chair as it is sometimes refereed to. I didn't know or remember that this famous speech was given at a dedication of a grave yard for those on both sides of the Civil War, that the citizens of the town of Gettysburg had raised the fund from states all over our country to make one befitting those who had fought and died. I also didn't know that Lincoln was so unpopular in his time either nor that he had drafted this address over three times wanting to get it just right and in the end went for a shortened version because he knew he would be following a long winded speaker. His words echo down threw our history, reminding me to remember those who have died, past and current wars and what they have died for, so that they may of not died in vain,
"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."
Take a few moments of your time to re-read this speech that you may of heard long ago and let it sink in today of all days.
GETTYSBURG ADDRESS (1863)
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 the 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.
Source: Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7 (1953-1955), 22.