Today Stretch and I are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address. We visited Gettysburg several years ago and when you walk those hallowed grounds it really does give you goose bumps.
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.
One hundred and fifty years later, we have many more grounds “consecrated” by the brave men and women who fought in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some made it home, others did not. Remarkably, some sons have followed in their father’s footsteps and made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, as Joe’s uncle and cousin did:
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.
After watching what has been going on in our Congress these past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that military service should be a prerequisite for serving in the House and Senate. Imagine having a legislature filled with the bravest and best of our citizens, who love this country so much they are willing to die for it. Perhaps then we would truly have the government Lincoln envisioned and not the current government “of the politicians, by the lobbyists, for the corporations.”
So on this special anniversary, Stretch and I salute our veterans and our troops, with a special shout out to my awesome cousin Captain Mike Filipek, U.S. Army.