Politics goes on as usual. Young men and women are sent to out of the way places that are not in the recruitment brochures as an instrument of national policy. It doesn't matter which party is in power. The men and women of the military services go where they are sent and they do their job without complaint. As I get older, the men and women that are sent look younger to me. But the excellence of our military in terms of the people, the training and the equipment is remarkable. Even the hard core liberal media, when embedded with military units during war zone actions have, for the most part, written glowing reports or the professionalism and teamwork of our military forces in the field.
So it is entirely appropriate for us to remember the contribution of each and every generation of American military and the sacrifices of these fine men and women and their extended families on Memorial Day, 2011.
I have yet to find a more moving or compelling memorial message than the speech of President Lincoln at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Those who know me know that I am trotting out this text for memorial messages on several appropriate days of remembrance during the year such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day and sometimes even on the 4th of July. I am sorry for the repetition - and when the tone of political discourse in this country suggests that we as a Nation do, in fact remember, understand and appreciate the contributions of so many who have given their lives and, in Mr. Lincoln's words, "their last full measure of devotion" - then I will stop nipping at your heels on National holidays.
I also seek to remind you all that at the time of the Gettysburg address by President Lincoln, the ultimate outcome of the Cival War was not yet certain. In so many ways we are in a similar position today. There is a national debate about the kind of Nation we as a people wish to be. The Founders created documents and enacted governmental structure that was unique in the history of the world in the 18th century. In my view the freedom and cultural emphasis on the rights and obligations of the individual have fostered the most exceptional nation in the world based upon the remarkable political philosophy of the day as memorialized by the Founders. But there are those who feel that the founding documents are outdated and they believe they know better than the founders what sort of government we should have. I am not sure that I will recognize my nation in a decade.
The media seeks to heap scorn on the Tea Party - but I remind you that those who gather together under the loose collection of citizens that might be called the Tea Party, are citizens like you and I that revere the rule of law and the Constitution and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. We are in deep trouble in this land this Memorial Day holiday. Please take time this Memorial day to remember the military heroes - fallen and otherwise - who have served this nation. And remember also the nation that they served.
I wish you all a safe Memorial Day holiday.
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.