May 27, 2001 11:00 pm

Lincolns words remind

us of need to stay united

While millions of Americans visit the cemetery resting places of their loved ones today, our minds turn to another place, visited by President Lincoln nearly 138 years.

Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pa., in November 1863 to dedicate a soldiers cemetery where a major Civil War battle had occurred four months earlier.

The war took a heavy toll on lives and relationships. And, yet, Lincoln found the time that day to pause for a moment at a very solemn place to reflect on the major sacrifices that had been made. Here are his words at the cemetery dedication:

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 battlefield 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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.

Lincoln summed up Americas values in an eloquent and memorable way. The Civil War is a sobering reminder that the idea of united is not only built into our countrys name, it is a pledge we make to each other every day.


Whatever your family is doing this holiday weekend, take a moment to pause and thank the heroes.

Generations of ordinary men and women have earned the title hero by their actions when their country needs them.

Others never step far from home, but earn the name hero in a million small ways.

They wait quietly at home for the heroes, ready to offer love and nurturing to wounded bodies and minds and souls.

They step out and reach out a hand and a heart to be sure others have a place to rest and regain strength.

They give of themselves for the elderly, the troubled, the children. And they give with little fanfare, doing what needs to be done. And doing it again. And again. And again.

It isnt all that hard to be a hero. We are surrounded by heroes. Take a moment today to give thanks for the heroes, whomever they may be.