November 23, 2016
Earlier this week I posted a piece entitled “Thanks for Nothing, and Everything” which was generally political and fairly sardonic in nature. Today, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I thought I would give thanks again, but this time distilled into a form more pure. A Gettysburg Address of Gratitude, if you will:
Four score 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.
Today, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the founders of the United States of America. Thank you for mutually pledging to each other your lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor. Thank you for sacrificing all so I could take part in the fountainhead of blessings flowing centuries into your future; none of which I either earned or deserved.
In your honor and out of a sense of solemn gratitude, I pledge to do whatever is necessary; whatever I can, and to sacrifice that which is required of me in the days ahead so as to preserve and protect the freedoms and the God-given unalienable rights of free people.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
Today we stand at a crossroads. An uncertain future but no more or less certain than of those who have gone before. This is our time. Today, we find ourselves in a war between two kingdoms: Between those who embrace liberty, truth and honor against those who eagerly consume lies, spread deception and daily strive to achieve the destruction of free society.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
Today, I want to thank my father, his father and all of the fathers who came before. I would like to thank my mother, her mother and all of the mothers who came before. Thank you for how you lived and for preserving through the generations the wisdom, knowledge and pride of which I have received simply through the good fortune of sharing your lineage and by your heritage.
Great Grandfather, thank you for your gallant and courageous service during the Civil War, for serving three years and eight months, for holding steady under fire for 102 days and for rising from the ranks to a first lieutenancy. Your achievements were truly representative of your devotion and patriotism to the flag of our country.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
Dad, you were a humble man who never hesitated to smile to everyone you met. You were quick to laugh upon hearing a joke from a friend. You worked hard your whole life. Your dad died when you were ten. Your mom died when you were seventeen. You flew in airplanes during World War II and you received multiple citations for your bravery.
I will never forget your kind disposition, your gentle spirit, your good character, your faith and your respect for all people.
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
Mom, your words and actions molded my heart. You were an intelligent and independent spirit who always told me about Grandpa who used to deliver milk by horse and wagon. You joined the military at a young age and served in a hospital in San Diego and later at airbases throughout the world. I know, in your later years, you would have preferred to live in a large city but you esteemed my father with a love that was enduring.
I always knew you were there for me. Your heart was big and your devotion to our family set the standard for me. I have taken these qualities and have passed them on to my own children.
– 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 seasons change, we must not. We must hold dear that worth keeping. Liberty, honor, morality and truth. Dignity, work, innovation and perseverance. Faith, hope, love and law. These things are good.
I am grateful this Thanksgiving for my family, friends and neighbors. My loving wife and amazing children. For my siblings, my progeny and our prospects. For the warm spring breeze to carry the scent of new flowers. The cleansing summer rains and the recollections of children laughing and splashing. For glorious days in the cool, crisp autumn air with the rays of sun to divide the panoply of falling leaves. A plate of the mother-in-law’s freshly baked apple crisp made with love and the apples recently picked at her farm. A winter fire crackling behind the sounds of laughter and conversations heard around the hearth. The silence of cascading snowflakes in a dark wood. The turning of seasons and for time honored traditions.
These things are also good. And all, so good.