Of all of our national holidays, Memorial Day is the most solemn. Memorial Day reminds us of the Supreme Sacrifice that has been made by so many of our fellow citizens to keep us a free people and provides us with an opportunity to honor their sacrifice.
Memorial Day has its roots in what originally was known as Decoration Day after the Civil War, when the women of communities in the North decorated the graves of the soldiers who perished in that horrific and tragic conflict.
In keeping with the spirit of Decoration Day and the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War (which still ranks as the worst war in our history in terms of the number of Americans who gave their lives or who were injured) last month, we are reprinting below Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, considered by many to be one of the greatest speeches of all time and which states far more eloquently than we ever could the debt that each of us owes to the brave men and women who have fought and died to defend our nation’s freedom and liberty. We think you will agree that Abraham Lincoln’s words are as beautiful and as inspiring today as they were when he uttered them in November of 1863 at Gettysburg:
“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.”