Friday, November 9, 2012

For Us, the Living

It is for us the living
rather to be dedicated...

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke "a few appropriate words" at the dedication of the military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On that day, the ability of the United States to survive as one nation remained in doubt.

In his words, Lincoln spoke of dedication. He spoke of a new birth of freedom. And he expressed hope that this government "of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

The nation has engaged numerous wars since the days of Lincoln, each more terrible than the last. When war ended, we buried our dead and hastened the return of those who survived the battle to civilian life, not realizing that they are forever changed from what they were. Indistinguishable when they left, they came home different. 

They left as sons and daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers.  They returned as veterans. Some came back with bodies mangled by man's instruments of destruction, others with minds mangled by horrors they had seen, experienced, and survived. Most look and act much as they did when they left. But they remain different. They are veterans, formed in the crucible of service, forged in the fires of combat, and tempered by experience.. 

It is written that "You have never lived until you have almost died. To those who have fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know."

Veterans know the flavor of freedom, and its cost. Once, they offered their lives for it. Most would do it again.

This Veterans' Day, it falls to us to rededicate ourselves, that this nation might have a new birth in freedom so dearly purchased by those who bore the brunt of battle..  

We owe it to them.

How will we demonstrate that dedication?

How will we bring about the new birth?