Memorial Day

flag off shed

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’s speech given on November 19, 1863 at Gettysburg to honor the dead of both the North and South of the great Civil war which eventually produced 600,000 deaths…far greater than any other war we have fought and died for.

I have felt an impulse to write sometime significant about this American Memorial Day. I recognize that many countries have their own version of a memorial day which allows them to ponder and honor the sacrifices of past and present soldiers, diplomats and brave citizens. I came across President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech which reignited a patriotic pride in Americans (given in 1986, and which addressed many conflicts including Vietnam). However, when I recalled Mr. Lincoln’s speech and was reminded of Martin Luther King’s, ” I Have a Dream” speech, I came to realize that these speeches can speak louder and more authoritative than any prose I could write. This brief summary is not about politics or right and wrong, nor even war itself. It is about those brave men and women in America, and throughout the world who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom-either from an internal oppressor or and external oppressor…and continue to do so. Also, this is not a flag waving-in-your-face post about how great America is. We have many faults and a history of violence, yet we have always retained the good and decent things in life which have made America a beacon to others for so many years. May she ever remain so. 

 Blessings to all this Memorial Day.

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