Our nation’s ideals are something to hold on to

We hope area residents have many things to be thankful for this week as they get ready to sit down with their families for dinner. We hope they also will remember one of the greatest gifts that all of us have been given: Our citizenship as Americans.

A century and a half ago, one of the most profound, beautifully written speeches in the English language was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln. It was the Gettysburg Address, presented during ceremonies to dedicate a cemetery holding the remains of many of those who fell in the Civil War battle.

Lincoln’s reminder that Americans are stewards of a tradition of freedom looked up to by many others in the world has remained relevant, even though he spoke at a time when the nation’s very existence was in doubt. Ours is a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” Lincoln said.

Since then, in both peace and war, there have been other tests of, as Lincoln put it, “whether any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”

The United States of 1863 was deeply flawed. Lincoln understood that. But he would have had serious concerns about the nation today too.

Throughout the world, there are those who hope our way of life can be destroyed or will collapse because of internal abuses. Lincoln’s words remain a reminder how important it is for our ideals to prevail. We are blessed to live under them and to be their stewards.