Wednesday, July 3, 2013

SOTW - July 3, 2013 - " ... we can not hallow this ground."

We Americans celebrate our Liberty tomorrow. Its blessings are infinite, but the price is great. 150 years ago this evening, our Nation experienced the latter on an unimaginable scale. Lee sent his Grays up a 40 foot tall ridge just south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on a hot July afternoon. Meade's Blues held fast. The determination of a brave few to preserve a More Perfect Union prevailed. The lives of 51,000 American sons and husbands were lost or forever altered on those immortal fields. We are all better for it, for the Union persevered. The Battle of Gettysburg, and the war of which it was a part, are the most incomprehensible chapters of our history. But they must not be forgotten, lest the cost paid by those brave souls on 3 July 1863 be in vain. About the battle, Abraham Lincoln later uttered some of the greatest words any mortal ever has. They bear repeating on the eve of our Independence Day (and forevermore): 

"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 battlefield 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 know little of The Civil War, then Ken Burns's documentary of the same name is a wonderful place to start. Every American should watch it at least once. The theme music of Burns's masterwork is your Song of the Week for July 3, 1863. Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans! Let's never forget how lucky we are to live and breathe on this soil. 

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