Being that it was Memorial Day in the United States yesterday, I thought we might take time from our barbecues and celebrations to revisit Abraham Lincoln’s iconic Gettysburg Address.
“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 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.”
What an incredibly wonderful intention the United States was born from, “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Memorial Day was brought into being after the Civil War to memorialize those soldiers who died in the defense of freedom and equality, not necessarily for their country or their nation but for the values that it stood for, those same values that the Founding Fathers set up in the constitution so strongly, poignantly and precisely. And the Civil War, all war, is a test. A test of whether the ideal of this great land or any other land with a similar intention and dedication (conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality) could endure? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes, in truth; I believe that it is the only kind of structure that will endure whether country, corporation or religious organization.
A new question however, might be, are we devoted to that (freedom and equality) or something else? Is it these ideals that motivate our world actions, do we honor these ideals in our domestic dealings, do we model these values to the world? If we are to endure, we’d better.