Gettysburg Tributes Ensure Nation's 'New Birth of Freedom' Never Forgotten

As the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg nears, the country will again familiarize itself with Abraham Lincoln's eloquent words. In his famed address, Lincoln said the world "can never forget what they did here."

He added, "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."

The 150th anniversary tributes and remembrances are important for more than its pageantry. The books, reenactments, stories, and documentaries all contribute in some way to ensure that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

America's form of government is indeed, as Ronald Reagan said, forever fragile, and must always be protected. 

In his Farewell Address, Reagan spoke about how America's "new patriotism" also needed to be one that is "informed."

He said "an informed patriotism is what we want," and asked, "...are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?"

Reagan recalled that in the America of his youth, neighbors or teachers taught children what it meant to be an American if it had not been taught at home. 

If all else failed, Reagan said "you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture."

He worried that "things have changed," and Americans are not being taught how fragile Americans freedoms are. 

"Freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs [protection]," Reagan said. 

He warned that forgetting America's history could ultimately result in the erosion of the American spirit, and he urged parents to talk about America's past and what it means to be an American with their children at the dinner table. 

Though Lincoln said the "world will little note, nor long remember what we say here," the Gettysburg tributes and commemorations will allow for parents and children to again learn about and discuss the country's special history and honor the sacrifices of the dead to ensure the sacrifices made on the battlefield at Gettysburg, along with Lincoln's words, will never be forgotten. 

The day Gettysburg is forgotten and eradicated from the national conscience will be the day Americans are less free--and the America Lincoln saw and Reagan knew needed to be preserved is no more.


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