At home, at the beach or at the pool, taking time to reflect on the importance of Memorial Day may prove difficult to do amid the sales and BBQs, the day off from work. But we should all pause and remember -- to honor those who have given their lives for our country and to dedicate ourselves to living in a way that ensures their sacrifices were not in vain.
One of the most fitting tributes to American soldiers is one that was given before Memorial Day was recognized -- President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln delivered his address at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., in November 1863, while the Civil War was still raging. He was not the main speaker for the day, but had been invited as an afterthought. His speech was so short (less than two minutes) that the photographer did not have time to get a picture of him delivering it.
The speech, one of my favorites, is engraved in the Lincoln Memorial, across the river from Arlington National Cemetery.
Its 278 words don't include "I" or "me," but they do take the audience from our start as a nation and the American Revolution to Lincoln's wishes for the future of our nation.
"Fourscore 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. ... 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."
This Memorial Day, let's give thanks, and increase our devotion, so that our soldiers will not have died in vain.
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.