Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Gettysburg Address and my Son

You can call me a geek if you want, but my son and I had a moment that really opened my eyes about being a Conservative, an American, my responibilities. My son is getting real interested in Social Studies. He is doing real well in it, so I took this moment to teach him a real life lesson.

They are going to start the American Civil War next week. So, I got out the of the library an American history book for his age. When I showed it to him today, his face lit up and he grabbed it. He turned the book directly to the Civil War.

Soon, we were sitting on the coach. He was reading about one of our most crucial moments in history and I was reading my book. Then he got to the Gettysburg Address. We discussed the battles that led to Gettysburg and Gettysburg itself. Then, without any prompting, as if he knew how important these words are, he began to read:

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, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

At the end, my son emphasized and repeated, “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.”

When you think what happened at Gettysburg and during the Civil War, it really brings to light how fragile our nation and freedom really is. After nearly 150 years, these revered words by such a great President still mean so much and are still so fitting.

We now find ourselves in such precarious times and events where our liberties and freedoms seemed threatened once again. To hear such words read by such an innocent voice underscores what is at stake and what is important.

As Lincoln understood, he was the steward of our nation and principles, as we are today. We are to pass down to the next generation this nation, hopefully better than we received it. We are to pass down the values, principles, and the way of life. We are to stand up and fight for our freedoms and liberties for us and future generations. We are to educate the next generation so they understand where America came from and why and how we are here. We are to insure we do not perish.

Ronald Reagan said in his California Gubernatorial Inauguration Speech in 1967, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

After this enlightening moment, I believe it is time to talk to him about our founding and have him read some of the Declaration of Independence. It is time to introduce him to Jefferson, Washington, and the other Founders. It is time to educate so that our fragile nation shall not perish.


  1. " must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation"

    We're in for a big fight FL.

  2. Just was wandering around, looking to see what people thought of Lincoln - usually what I find online is an awful lot of hatred for the man, as if Union were a bad thing. So it was quite refreshing to see this post, to see Lincoln actually treated as a part of the American heritage that matters.

    I don't know if you'll be interested in this, it's just a commentary on the Gettysburg Address I wrote some time ago.