Our nation was born through the trials of war. The union was saved the same way.
Abraham Lincoln, elected Nov. 6, 1860, was determined to save the union. "The campaign had been impassioned and contentious. More than 80 percent of eligible voters turned out. Lincoln received 59 percent of the electoral votes, but less than 40 percent of the popular vote," I write in my upcoming book, "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches that Every American Should Own" (Regnery). "In the 17 weeks between Lincoln's election and his Inaugural Address, seven states, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, seceded from the Union."
While he hoped for peace without war, he was determined to keep the nation united.
Lincoln's Inaugural Address placed the onus for potential war on the Southern states, "In your hands, my dissatisfied countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war."
Four years later, Lincoln was re-elected. He delivered his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865.
"The dome that had been half-complete at the time of the first inaugural, with a crane sticking out of the top, had been completed. The Union Army had been victorious in recent battles, and the war's final outcome was all but determined. Slaves had been freed, and the Capitol was surrounded by the biggest crowd to date, with half of them reported as 'persons of color.'"
The clouds broke and the sun came out, as Lincoln began to speak. Through the guidance of divine providence, the leadership of Lincoln and the service of our soldiers, the union was saved.
As we remember and honor those who have served our country, we should remember that our country would not survive without the service of all our brave women and men. Thank you for your service to our country.