In these days of failed Super Committees and deep concerns about the direction our country is heading, I believe it is a good time to reflect back a little about where our nation has been. I was recently in Gettysburg, speaking to the College Republicans. It’s nearly impossible to go to the town and not be taken in by the history that is all around you. For a lover of history, as I am, it is impossible.
A few short blocks from Gettysburg College is the former home of David Wills. He was an attorney who took the lead in establishing a military cemetery outside of town, so the dead could be buried with reverence and honor — over 50,000 were killed, wounded or missing in the fight. Four months after the battle, on November 18, 1863, Abraham Lincoln traveled to the small community to help dedicate that cemetery. Wills hosted the President in his home that night, and in fact, Lincoln put the finishing touches on his Gettysburg Address there. The guest room in which he stayed and the desk on which he worked are open to the public to see.
Of course, the words that Lincoln spoke the next day, 272 in all, entered the central lexicon of American thought and life: “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…”
Thankfully, we aren’t engaged in a Civil War in our day, nearly twelve score years since the Founding, but we are definitely engaged in an ideological struggle that will determine the fate of our country. It all comes down to whether we are willing to return to the ideals of limited, Constitutional government based on the belief in individual freedom and personal responsibility, or whether we will trust the federal government to manage our lives and dictate our futures. Based on its track record of late, I would put my trust in the former, specifically in the American people.
Lincoln’s earnest desire in Gettysburg that day in November 1863 was “that this nation, under God” would have a “new birth of freedom.” It is my hope that we would have a new birth of freedom in our day. Let’s look to the generations who have come before us, and be thankful for the price they paid to get us to this point in our American history, and do our part to keep the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave.
May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving Day,
Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1863 setting the precedent for the last Thursday in November becoming our annual National Day of Thanksgiving — click here