Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address is my favorite speech, especially its final paragraph.
It’s always explained my built-in patriotism so easily ignited.
As Americans we’re connected, hands held by our ancestors despite not necessarily knowing their names.
I remember the first time I walked a battlefield, how familiar it felt, swearing like General George Patton, I too might have been there. There is no proof nor yet any denial. We were, we are and we will be, said the General, as if the earth, now so peaceful, had a second heartbeat pounding beneath our feet.
My dad who fought in the Second World War, losing my mother being gone for so long, also comes to mind. He probably would have lost her anyway, but it’s more romantic to blame it on war.
I think of Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy’s youngest, whose plane went down during World War 1, leaving behind a beloved fiancee, and all the fiancées whose sweethearts didn’t come home.
It’s why I’m humbled at Arlington, bow at Lincoln’s Memorial and weep by the Vietnam Wall, especially at Christmas time when families of the fallen leave cards and presents. One year there was, what looked like, a poundcake wrapped in festive paper with a note one could read…I know it’s your favorite Billy. Please share it with your friends. I found out later anything left at the wall gets lovingly archived, so that included the cake.
Lincoln wasn’t here for that war, those preceding or any thereafter, but his words resonate nonetheless as we humbly, with great grace, let freedom ring.
I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature
Memorial Day 2018
God Bless America