Sunday, November 15, 2009

November is the cruelest month...

Yes I quibble with Eliot, whose most famous poem, The Wasteland, began with the most famous disparagement of the month of April.

November is the cruelest month in the calendar, bringing with it dead skies, the hint of winter and two of the most vivid memorials to our war dead... Veterans Day and the anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the day we now know as Veteran's Day, we honor those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the greater ideal of honor, courage and country.

And on November 19th, 1863, Abraham Lincoln uttered less than 300 words in one of the most famous speeches ever given to honor those who died for their country.

Let us always remember that neither Veteran's Day nor Lincoln's famous speech would have happened were it not for the incredible sacrifices of our soldiers.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust... said Eliot in The Wasteland, a poem both famous and obscure of meaning.

I can only imagine the fear of those men slaughtered at Gettysburg. I can only imagine the fear of our soldiers who are now fighting today in the name of honor, virtue and passionate dedication to our country.

To me, Lincoln was a more gifted poet than Eliot. So I end with his words, said in honor of our soldiers...

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 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 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.

Our nation has been consecrated by the blood of all those who've died to protect it. We need to remember their sacrifice - we need to make sure that this American ground was not hallowed in vain.

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