Just after the violence of Charlottesville, after watching scenes of white supremacists, and neo-nazis, carrying torches, and chanting hate; I saw a tv trailer. It was on PBS, and it was a scene from Ken Burns famous documentary, “The Civil War.” The scene was of a new military cemetery, located on the battlefield of Gettysburg. The actor, Sam Waterston, as Abraham Lincoln, was speaking the words of the Gettysburg Address. Here is a portion:
“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, not 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 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.”
We are all “the people,” descendants of those who sought to create “a more perfect union.” The process has been messy, bloody, imperfect, and at the same time wonderous and life giving. We cannot surrender the process to the haters, the greedy, the terrorists, and the self-serving. We must work together, with respect, with dialogue, and with peace in our hearts. This ideal must not “perish from the earth!” So help us God!