This is one of those special weeks to remember in American history. Two very critical events in years past during this week defined and preserved this great constitutional republic we call home, America.
We celebrate a nation where all men are indeed created equal. However, we hold dear an equality of opportunity in America, not an equality of outcomes.
Perhaps it is somewhat poetic that this seminal battle, which truly changed the course of the Civil War, was fought just days before 87th anniversary of our independence from the British. The battle ensured that Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” – would persevere and survive.
Three days of battle at Gettysburg, where nearly 50,000 Americans were killed, wounded or went missing, were about the essence of Jefferson’s words and the moral character of our nation. It proved that we could no longer compromise our principles and values as they related to liberty, freedom and justice for all. If those words had meaning, we had to fight.
As President Abraham Lincoln stated in the beginning of his Gettysburg Address: “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. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
This week is special because we remember the intricate relationship between these two ominous events – the Declaration of Independence and the Battle of Gettysburg. They are interwoven and should be forever emblazoned in our minds and upon our hearts.
If not for the Declaration of Independence, well, there might not have been a Gettysburg.
The Declaration of Independence lit a fire, establishing a beacon that shined brightly, and the Battle of Gettysburg fueled that beacon for future generations so those people previously under the shackles and chains of physical bondage could experience true liberty and freedom.
We also must remember Franciscan Catholic Priest Francois Murad, who was recently beheaded in Syria for his faith. He lost his life in the struggle for religious freedom.
The struggle for liberty and freedom continues for women in Islamic countries that see them oft times as nothing more than property. That is the real “War on Women” and not some faux political gimmick propagandized by progressive socialists in our America.
The struggle for freedom and liberty cannot be confused with special-interest groups seeking a political agenda. We must never become so disillusioned to believe that every desired aspect of our lives or behavior translates to a right because as Jefferson stated, “A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it away.”
From July 4, 1776, to July 1-3, 1863, to the present, brave men and women have fought to ensure this grand experiment in liberty, freedom and justice for all – that this nation under God will have a new birth of freedom for all who legally came to our shores and that this government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.
I end with the words of George Washington in a letter to James Madison on Nov. 30, 1785:
We are either a united people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern, act as a nation, which have national objects to promote and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.
Steadfast and Loyal,
Allen B. West