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I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but 150 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered these words on the battlefield of Gettysburg, Pa., where more than 51,000 Americans sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom.
“Fourscore 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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.”
America has forgotten – not just the words uttered by Lincoln, but that America was indeed founded as one nation under God committed to a new birth of liberty, guided by a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Will we allow that vision, that dream, that goal, to perish?
Will this be the generation of Americans to throw away the very concept of self-government under the rule of law?
Sometimes we need to leave the United States to remember what it represents. Having just returned to the states after nearly two weeks outside the country, my perspective today is from above the clouds.
I see America squandering what may well be its last chance to hold on to the dream of its founders who sought to do something unique in world history – to remove the shackles from the people and place them on the central government in the form of a Constitution that clearly guaranteed the rights of the people, limited the powers of Washington and reserved the powers not clearly enumerated to the federal government to the several states.
To preserve that dream, it’s no longer enough to restrain further abuses. We must reverse them. We must recapture the spirit of the founders and make ourselves spiritually, morally and intellectually worthy of self-government. Or we can go the way of the other nations of the world – the fallen empires, the kingdoms, the lands where rulers ruled and the people quivered in fear of their government.
Today may seem like any other day in American history.
But until Americans awaken from their slumber and reject the path of tyranny, I’m not sure how many more days we have left of the American dream.
Are you content to be part of the generation of Americans that betrayed the dream and left your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren a nation less than the one into which you were born?
Are you content to be part of the generation of Americans that wasn’t willing to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the name of liberty?
Are you content to see America squandering its last chance to hold on to all that made the country great, prosperous and blessed by God?