Friday, November 22, 2013

What Can the Gettysburg Address Teach Us About Thanksgiving?

Guest Column from Representative Richard Adams

November 19th of this year marked the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s iconic “Gettysburg Address.” During the speech, Lincoln expressed not only a great love for his country, but also sent a clear message that a nation founded on liberty can only survive if its people are dedicated to maintaining it.

We all know how it starts: “Four score and seven years ago…” That is about the point where many of us trail off. But if you have ever read the Gettysburg Address, you can appreciate the speech for its simplicity and its brevity. It took only about three minutes to recite and contained only about 270 words.

In the spirit of President Lincoln, I will try to be brief. But the reason I mentioned the Gettysburg Address (besides for it turning 150 this year) is that I think it coincides with the spirit of Thanksgiving.

The first sentence, in its entirety, 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.”

That one sentence can remind us about so many of the things we have to be thankful for as Americans. The concepts of a government based on free people and equality was a rather new idea. Even though it has taken many years for our nation to fulfill that vision (which was largely what the Civil War was about), the concept that put it into motion is a special item to be proud of and grateful for as we strive to achieve a full measure of equality for all Americans.

Of course, the main part of Lincoln’s speech was honoring the brave soldiers who fought and lost their lives on the battlefields of Gettysburg. Long before that time and ever since, the United States has had courageous, selfless men and women who have done the same for their country.

In fighting for our peace and freedom, they have given something of great value to all of us. We are the beneficiaries of their service and sacrifice. Whether or not you go to war for this country, we can all help make it a better place by giving of ourselves. The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are times of great charitable giving every year. The only way to sustain a free and prosperous society is for us to help one another. I have always believed that Americans understand this, and that is why we are some of the most charitable people in the world.

I’m sure President Lincoln could have given this same message with half the words and twice the eloquence. But I thought it was important to share, and I wish all the people in Miami and Darke counties a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

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