How far have we come? How far yet to go?

Abraham Lincoln

On November 19, 1863 — 158 years ago today — at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War,  President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In fewer than 275 words, he brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.

It used to be that every school child could recite at least the beginning sentence of the Gettysburg Address:  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.    But, all these years later we still argue the fine points of that very sentence and, sometimes, it seems as though we might be, yet again, on the brink of a mammoth civil conflict.

And perhaps we are — it’s just that it happens on the streets during “protest marches” and in the courts during “fair trials” and in our free press in hateful words and “fake” news.  As if these thoughts don’t bum me out enough, I looked up how many wars the United States of America has been involved in since our beginnings in 1776.  Want to hazard a guess?

“Freedom From Want” by Norman Rockwell

Since the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War with the Treaty of Paris in 1783 in which Britain recognized the independence of the United States of America and the colonies, we have been involved in 92 wars, three of which are ongoing.  Granted, this information comes from Wikipedia which is not necessarily known for its accuracy and even it has a disclaimer of sorts at the top of the page:  The neutrality of this article is disputed  Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page.  Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. (August 2021)

Nevertheless… were the number of wars even half that amount, it is a scary proposition.  I wonder what Lincoln would have to say about our situation today.  And could he confine his remarks to  two minutes and 272 words?  Today, less than a week before our traditional Thanksgiving here in America, it is surely something to think about.


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