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.
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, PA, November 1863
Though Lincoln did not say these words on the day we now consider to be Memorial Day, I’ve been thinking about them all day long, our ongoing obligation this ideal, and what that means in a time when our political system focuses on what divides us, rather than on what brings us together.
I don’t have any answers, but I do have a heart full of gratitude that I get to honor the service members in my family on Veterans’ Day, when we celebrate the living, rather than today. My heart is also full of sympathy and sadness for those whose who mourn their beloved, brave men and women who “gave the last full measure.”