On Liberty and Equality for All

Peggy Noonan writes today in the Wall Street Journal about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and its upcoming 150th anniversary in November. The Gettysburg Address is short, only three paragraphs and two minutes long, given at Gettysburg Cemetery for those who died in the then-ending Civil War, but it is said to be the most famous speech in the history of our country if not the West. Evidently President Lincoln wrote it out, corrected it once, then delivered it with Biblical cadences and phrasing. He was not the main speaker that day and was expected to say little, deferring to the lead orator. History proved otherwise, at least in importance. 

Ms. Noonan writes of this because, of course, it is the week of our nation’s birthday when we reflect on our innocent origins and giant ideals. It is a time when we as Americans consider from where we have come, where we are today, and where we are heading. We consider liberty and equality and the health of the Union. In 1863, at the close of the terrible war against slavery that divided our country, brother against brother, equality for all became the rallying cry for the North. Slavery of any kind denies equality and liberty. No one has the right to own another. In the course of the history of man, Caucasians have been enslaved, Asians have been enslaved, Africans have been enslaved, all owned as though they were products, as though they had no unalienable rights, no human dignity. These tragedies cry out to us, from Roman galleys to southern plantations.

So today, we say, there is no slavery. But many disagree, saying the unborn are the slaves of our modern world. Since 1972, when the Supreme Court ruled in essence that a woman owned the child within her, the unborn became slaves. And this ruling continues to be the law of the land, allowing women to own innocent Americans, to have the power of life and death.

Today a civil war rages in the hearts, minds, and bodies of our citizens. The divide is deep and is similar to the nineteenth-century Civil War we recall this autumn of 2013. I do not know what the outcome of today’s civil war will be, but I cry for our country so divided.

And like many others in many other times in history, I pray for an end to this slavery. I pray for every American to be equal under the law, from the moment of conception, for we are meant to be a nation of liberty and equality for all. And as Abraham Lincoln said, such a war is a test “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure… “

Can we long endure? Many have died in this cause, millions aborted each year, mothers shattered by grief, fathers mourning their lost children, grandparents never knowing their grandchildren. The count rises. President Lincoln’s words ring true for us today:

“…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.”

As an American, on this 237th birthday of Independence, I resolve this too.

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