I then found, and reread Lincoln’s address. But while reading it this time many of his words and phrases took on new meanings for me.
I believe Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a speech that could be given today because growing numbers believe that America is as divided today as it was when the Civil War began in South Carolina in 1860. In many ways America’s divisive issues of 1860 are the same divisive issues that divide America today – only the names have changed.
Lincoln’s address reads:
“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.”
This time I saw just how closely Lincoln’s first paragraph is linked to America’s foundational document — the Declaration of Independence — and how America’s divisive issues today revolve around what Lincoln stated was “the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Today America’s divisiveness has been created by those who define Jefferson’s words “created equal” to mean “a right” — as in Obamacare. It is not. God’s”‘unalienable rights” are those rights granted to all mankind by God. Created rights, as in Obamacare, are rights created by the government and can be taken from the people, or changed, by the whims of any new government or dictator, anytime.
Lincoln began his second paragraph with: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.” These words are as meaningful for America’s challenges today as they were in Lincoln’s days.
The causalities in America’s internal, “non-shooting Civil War” today are not bodies lying on the fields surrounding Gettysburg, but the results are just as deadly as those bodies buried at Gettysburg in 1863.
America’s internal Civil War dead today are the drug addicts caught up in the drug epidemic plaguing America, those attending America’s non-functional schools that have removed religion and moral training from its curriculum, those who don’t believe the “traditional family” is the foundation of a free society, those lounging in America’s prisons for whatever reason, and those blinded by the promises of getting something for nothing, as in Obamacare, and believing big government is the answer.
Lincoln’s leadership was vital in preventing America from dividing into two nations — one free, one enslaved. I am certain that Lincoln fully understood and comprehended Christ’s words found in Matthew 12:25 that read: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.”
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.