Tuesday, November 19, 2013

150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

November 19th 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. It has received much less fanfare than the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination but shouldn't. The words Lincoln spoke that day still ring true to this day and the United States has yet to live up to the promise made the day it was created in 1776. In fact these days we are moving farther away from that promise. Today I'm posting my poem to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg 150th

Lincoln said, “My fellow citizens we cannot escape history”
Indeed, it echoes as loud as the cannons did on that day 150 years ago
and we cannot escape it's horrors, we cannot hold our ears to the screams nor can we hold our hands over our eyes to hide these blood-soaked fields
for if we do we will not learn its lessons, we as a civilization will never grow and we as individuals will never grow
If you listen to these winds that blow across time they will tell us of the failure of tyranny and the precious nature of freedom
They echo across these hills of Pennsylvania, to the mountains in Bavaria, to Hiroshima
they echo in the words of Dr Martin Luther King, to the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan
we still have much to learn

We hide from the past but it echos as loud as those cannons did on that fateful day
We are reminded of our bitter past when Sherman lay Atlanta in ruins
twenty seven years later 300 Indians were massacred at Wounded Knee
During WWII Japanese Americans were put in camps even as their sons fought for America
The slaves may have been freed but were segregated
still treated as not a whole human being
Things have improved but... we still to this day do not know the full extent of freedom
we still have much to learn

The past will tell us of the enormous cost of war
it will tell us of the folly
The scars of destruction visible in photographs of the past
war takes away the most precious gift... life itself
we have a devalued view of this gift these days
there is no amount of gold that can buy it
war worst of all gives no value to this gift, just another body
we forget they had a mother and father, many were fathers themselves, they had a personality, they had dreams
we still have much to learn

Wars are not won
the books will tell us they are but what do the pictures tell us?
pictures of the soldiers as they lie lifeless on the fields
the mushroom clouds above Hiroshima and Nagasaki
the ones who lived but died years later of cancer
and the stains from these wars left on the soul our nation
We fought tyranny but did we really win, and at what cost?
We still have much to learn

Often there are days when I feel as if we are staring at the abyss
I want to give up
then I remember that God's time line is not ours
we are merely a speck, though a very important speck, on a very large time line that goes back millennium and will continue
Lincoln spoke of an eternal struggle of right and wrong good and evil
The war that is fought in each of our hearts
The choice is ours to choose
a life only to ourselves, wants and desires and forget about others
the choice is ours to choice tyranny or that of freedom
the choice is ours to choose violence or peace
Lincoln also said, “We hold the power and bear the responsibility”
We hold the responsibility and the power change the world is inside our hearts
when we seek truth, light, love and above all peace
We still have much to learn

Will the cannons ever be silenced?
I cannot answer that alone but I can do my part as can all of you
but I know deep in my heart they can
when we all learn that leadership is through example and not to control others
when we learn leadership is about serving the interest of others instead of your own
history teaches this as well
We must let go of the dogmas, we must let go of one-upsmanship, we must let go of our hatred
history tells us that peace really works that freedom really works
history tells us when we seek virtue it shows us the way
We still have much to learn

Only when the power of love is greater than the love of power will the world know peace
only then will it know true freedom
Lincoln spoke in this city of Gettysburg of a new birth of freedom and that a government by the people for the people shall not perish from this Earth
America isn't the land we stand on, it is not a land of kings, it is a land of an idea
an idea that you are free to pursue whatever life you wish as long as you do not harm others and you are responsible for your failures
America is the idea that we all have an equal chance to use our God given talents, America is about equality for all no matter rich or poor, no matter what race or gender, no matter what creed
We have yet to realize what America is and this day, 150 years after this battle, we are still far from realizing the dream of America
While other countries built their country around culture and language, America built its country on an idea
an idea that dared to say that everyone is created equal, and idea that we the should be no king no system of class
at times this seems impossible
at times it seems the darkness is too strong
at times it seems peace may not come in our lifetime
it may not, it may never come, but this does not mean that we should not strive to find it and fight every single day for it
We still have much to learn

They say poets, preachers, and politicians will all have their say
I am no preacher
I am sure not a politician
I am just a simple man, loosely called a poet, with a simple message
a reminder on this anniversary that we have still much to learn from these fateful days
Peace and freedom are our greatest treasures
I seek not approval but only that you take this message to your heart
take it, cradle it within your heart, for if we all do this then the world will finally realize this dream

The fiery trial in which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation
We hold the power and bear the responsibility... the words of Lincoln

Finally let us remember the story of hope on the days after the battle when a former slave walked the fields giving water and food to injured soldiers from both sides, spending her life savings, and asking for nothing in return for this is what America is. America is not it's government We are not the sum of our military might. We are a nation of inventors, a nation of artists, we believe in justice and the rule of law. We are the compassion of neighbors serving each other. We are the peacemakers and blessed are the peacemakers. We have yet to live up to this meaning of America but let us never give up trying.
On this anniversary let us remember these horrors of our past and learn from them.

We still have much to learn

by Timothy House

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