Measured Against Reality

Thursday, November 23, 2006

How Far We Have Left to Go

Today is November 23, 2006. It is Thanksgiving. Last night I was reminded of something that was written one hundred and forty-three years and four days ago. The text is below.

FOURSCORE and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon 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 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, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


We have come a long way in those 143 years, and much of “the unfinished work” and “great task remaining before us” are still left unfinished, still remains before us. We have made fantastically great strides toward true equality, but there are still many left to take before we forever banish the fear and hatred that underlies inequalities from our nation’s hearts. It was a daunting task in 1863, and it is a daunting task in 2006.

Today, on Thanksgiving, give thanks for how far we’ve come, while solemnly remembering how far we have yet to go.

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3 Comments:

  • Stu,
    Last night I noticed something as well. Family gatherings are a delicate balance. Everyone has their role. If someone is missing, although slight at times, there is a nagging void. A gap in a conversation occurs, a game seems incomplete, a bed unfilled. Someone away from family at a holiday needs to know.
    Anonymous Aunt

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:48 PM, November 23, 2006  

  • I think this is more appropriate:

    Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

    Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

    And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

    Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789. George Washington

    By Blogger Mr. Fantastic!, at 9:41 PM, November 26, 2006  

  • Hear, Hear.

    By Blogger Li Madison, at 9:56 AM, November 27, 2006  

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