Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 230th America!

Well, we made it. Just a short 230 years ago, the United States of America was just a distant dream of some disgruntled rebels fighting against the king of England. Now here we are, litterally sitting atop the world, and though there are problems yet to be solved, there is no nation on this earth that is better place to live. While there are a many, many countries I love beyond the shores of America, no country has done so much to help so many in so short a time. There is not even a close second.

Even considering the dark pages from our past: slavery, racism, and injustice; and those dark things that are more recent creations: abortion, homosexual "unions", and an organized, "intellectual" effort to stiffel and misconstrue the message of Christ, still America has far more going for it than it does against it. The worst enemy Americans face on this planet is not terrorists from Asia, nor global warming, rather it is passivity in the face of evil, and its "tolerance" of debauchery.

On this day marking the 230th year of the existance of the United States of America, I wish to call reader's attention to something that happend during it's 87th year.

Of all the events in the history of American that stand as turning points, there is one that stands out beyond all the rest: the American Civil War. And amongst all the events and battles of the Civil War, again one stands out above and beyond all the other as a turning point: The Battle of Gettysburg, which took place between July 1st and July 4th 1863. On July 5th 1863, General Lee and his leutinants of the southern confederate states, packed up their belongings and left the field of battle, beaten, humbled, and bloody. From that point on, it was a long, slow battle until the final day of southern capitulation at Appomattox Court House.

And on the other side of the country, in the state of Mississippi, another battle months long in intensity, though not as famous as Gettysburg, also came to a conclusion: the Siege of Vicksburg. It was on July 4th, 1863 that a little known Union general, U. S. Grant, received the surrender of Confederate General John Pemberton. Vicksburg was the key to the southern control of the Mississippi river, the "super highway" of 19th century America. Grant and the leaders of the Union understood that the war could not be one until the Mississippi river was under complete Union control, and on July 4th, while Lee was getting ready to leave the Pennsylvania battlefield of Gettysburg, Grant was occupying the city of Vicksburg.

The Siege of Vicksburg was so brutal and so long a battle, that the citizens of Vicksburg REFUSED to celebrate Independence Day (the 4th of July) for over 80 years! Finally they succumbed during 1944, during the last days of World War II, and the citizens of Vicksburg have been celebrating the 4th of July ever since.

The amazing coincedence of two major Civil War battles being won on the same day, July 4th, the day of America's delcaration of independence, cannot be overlooked. It was as if to say that the process and the goals of the American Revolution were still in effect, that the Revolution had not gone far enough.

Not only was there still need of revolution, but that the Union was on the right side of this struggle, and the Confederates on the wrong side. It was as if God were giving the Union a big "thumbs up" to encourage and strengthen it for the long war that still lay ahead.

This amazing coincedence certainly did not escape the notice of the American President of that time, Abraham Lincoln. In November of 1863, he was invited to Gettysburg to help dedicate a cementary built to contain the many dead Union soldiers who fell on the field of battle. It was at this dedication that the most important and powerful words in American history were spoken, words so powerful that they have been enshrined in stone, memorized by thousands, and revered to this very day. Of course these words are what we call the Gettysburg Address:
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.

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. 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.

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. 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 -- 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.
Happy Birthday America.

<>< TM

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