Friday, November 22, 2013

Let's Keep Pursuing Abraham Lincoln's Vision of America

Is Abraham Lincoln's vision of government still worth pursuing?  Or have times and culture changed beyond what he envisioned 150 years ago standing at that National Cemetery dedication in Gettysburg?
Civil War Union Patriotic Envelope Design

"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."

    As a senior in high school in 1971 it was my honor to be chosen to recite Lincoln's Gettysburg address at the Memorial Day Ceremony in my hometown by the local American Legion.  I admit I really didn't understand the creative genius of Lincoln's words.  I was just glad I was able to memorize it and recite it and not make a mistake when called upon to speak to those gathered to remember the soldiers who have served our country over the years.  When I repeated Lincoln's words our nation was struggling to extricate ourselves from the Vietnam War, and come to terms again with 'who we are as a nation'.
    Again in 2013, one hundred and fifty years after President Lincoln first shared his challenge of what our nation was struggling with in the Civil War, it falls to us to continue to strive to preserve our nation. It was not Lincoln who won the war, it was the multitude of soldiers who stepped up and gave their best. Lincoln may have set the vision, but it was the people who brought it into effect.  Even back then there were political thieves and scoundrels at work, just like today. By the grace of God, in spite of the anger and sadness of that civil war, our nation was given a new birth of freedom.  Through great sacrifice and courage those American citizen-soldiers won "Liberty and Union".  But what of the second phrase?  "Now and Forever"?  Let's recommit to working together so that it cannot be said what they preserved. . . we lost through indifference.

    Our current president may be too busy or too grand to "remember" the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Let's surprise him and the rest of the professional political class of both parties entrenched in Washington DC, and thwart their plans to spend our nation into oblivion and regulate us into helpless quiet sheep that obey their every whim.  Isn't Lincoln's vision of government -- "of the people, by the people, for the people" -- far better than what the political elites envision for us?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Remember" -- Honoring Civil War Soldiers by Learning History

What's the value of remembering events like the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?  What's the value in exploring history?
Drawn by Dawnielle Rowe, age 11
    "History" has been debated, edited, summarized, rewritten, exaggerated by the victors, discarded as irrelevant by educators, etc. etc. etc.  In spite of all the limitations involved in understanding history, I still believe exploring history is very valuable in developing character.  I present this picture as evidence that even a child can understand the value of "history".  I recently found it when going through some boxes long packed away.  It was drawn by my daughter when she was 11 years old in 1993.  This picture she drew years ago reflects an attitude she was learning about "those who came before":  respect and honor them.  I still marvel at her integration of the two perspectives of "the THEN of burying the dead" with "the NOW of remembering them".  I wonder how much of an inspiration for her picture was the Civil War reenacting we were doing and how much of it was the fact that in the small church cemetery there in Pennsylvania were a few headstones of soldiers who had been killed in the war and brought back home to be buried.  She has not grown up to be an 'official historian'.  Yet even today as an adult she has an honest respect for the courage and sacrifice of those who have gone before.

    In our "instant" culture we are being lulled into thinking history doesn't really matter anymore.  Some say we have replaced valuing "honor and courage" with "cool & edgy".  That history is still important is shown everyday by how hard progressive elites in our educational system work at editing out old story lines about honor and courage in American History and replacing them with story lines that disparage our nation.  These progressive elites understand that what "perspective" on history is taught to our children will affect their outlook on our nation.  I've heard that it took Hitler about ten years of editing history to convince the German people that killing the Jews was a good idea.  History still matters.  Not just recent history, but history of the generations who struggled in building our great nation.  Should we let Abraham Lincoln's hope that 'those who fought at Gettysburg would always be remembered' be casually thrown away by our children and grandchildren?
    Yes there are events and actions that we cannot be proud of in our national history.  Yes there were thieves and scoundrels who wielded political and economic power that fostered pain and disgrace.  But I still believe that we have been a exceptional nation overall.  I still believe that the courage and dedication of the generations who came before us is worthy of remembering.
    Knowing history does not easily solve today's problems, but maybe it gives us some understanding of what options might be wise to avoid.
    Knowing history does not mean total understanding of how we "got here", but it often provides clues needed to better wrestle with the challenges looming before us.
   Knowing history does humble us a bit, making us pause before we presume that we are unstoppable. 

    "Remember" . . .  Do you think it's worth the effort to pass on to our children and grand children the attitude that its proper to value the courage and sacrifice of those who have gone before?  Or should we just "Forget It"?  Let me know what you think.  Pass along ways you have found helpful in encouraging the next generation to "Remember".

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Would President Obama's Version of The Gettysburg Address Be?

    Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama -- Two politicians from Illinois separated by 150 years -- How different would be their "Gettysburg Address"?
    President Abraham Lincoln on Nov.19,1863 gave a short yet profound address at the dedication of the Gettysburg  Soldier's National Cemetery which enshrined his vision for a greater America arising out of the conflict of the Civil War.  What would be President Barack Obama's vision for America if he gave the "Gettysburg Address"?  Given our current president's political track record, I submit the following spin-speech:

    Four score and seven years ago some rich white men of the greedy 1% got the idea that they could make more money if they didn't have to pay taxes to Europe.  They convinced the working class people to go to war and die for their vision of change.  They talked about liberty, but really meant the chance to exploit the workers.  They talked about equality, but kept slaves.
    Their discriminatory system has now broken down and we are a divided people, still asking the working class to die to bring about change.  I stand here at this cemetery dedication, having to deal with the divisions I've inherited from the failed leadership of the past.  It now falls on my shoulders to lead this country forward toward genuine equality.  The Union soldiers who fought here were fortunate to have the full backing of my Federal government.  They would not have won the tepid victory of this past July had it not been for the roads that led them here, had it not been for the tireless devotion of the Federal administrators coordinating the war effort from Washington DC, and it not been for my grand vision of where we must go as a nation.
    Have no doubt that change is coming!  My leadership will bring about setting free all those enslaved in the southern plantation system!  I will give them a new birth of freedom!  The evil serpent of states rights will be crushed under the heel of absolute federal power!!  Those enslaved will be given the freedom to work under the empowering supervision of federal regulations to rebuild those plantations into new and glorious communities where wise compassionate federal supervisors will lead them gently through every stage of their lives -- guiding them away from obesity through federally planned meals, providing family planning through free contraceptives and free abortions, educating them into becoming compliant contented workers supportive of my Federal government!
    Even now under my leadership, the compassionate elites of Washington DC are enabling the working class people already within my sphere of control to grasp the truth that their only hope for happiness comes from total Federal supervision.  And I promise you this day -- at this cemetery dedication service for these unfortunates who had to die to end the dream of the greedy 1% -- I promise you that this nation will become greater than Europe!  I am creating a new and greater Federal government composed of all the people living under federally mandated harmony, supported by the people's wealth distributed through proper federal channels, for the good of all the compliant people supervised by my wise progressive federal regulators.  Yes, the world will quickly forget the dead buried in this cemetery, BUT the world will never forget the wisdom and goodness of MY grand progressive vision!  FORWARD!!

    Times have changed.  President Abraham Lincoln understood truth and justice.  President Barack Obama only understands Chicago politics.

    It's called political satire.  Freedom of speech hasn't been taken away . . . yet.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Civil War "Soldier's Letter" Envelope Pictures Showing Various Postage Costs

After writing the post for October 26, 2013 on the Soldier's Letter 3d Maine Envelope, I did a search on the web for other pictures of "Soldier's Letter" envelopes.  Here are a few that I found that show some of the various ways postage costs were indicated:

Examples of envelopes without stamps, marked "Due 3":

United State Christian Commission Envelope
"Soldier's Letter"  Due 3

This envelope has the Soldier's Letter tag hand written with the name of the soldier, a chaplain. 

United States Sanitary Commission Envelope
"Soldier's Letter"  Due 3
This second example does not have the name of the soldier written on it, just the written tag Soldier's Letter, with the additional tag "please forward".  I've seen this sort of request tag in variations of wording written on other Soldier's Letter envelopes.  

Example of Envelope marked Due 6:

U.S. Army Hospital Envelope
Soldier's Letter  Due 6
This third example has the "Due 6" hand written in on it.  There is a name written in under the printed "soldier's letter" line, but it was still evidently penalized.  Why was this letter penalized when it has a name written on it?  Maybe it only has the name of the Chaplain and not that of the soldier.  I'm not sure. 

Example of Envelope with two Three cent stamps:
United States Christian Commission
6 cents postage paid
This fourth cover has only the printed tag, not a hand written one of Soldier's Letter, and no name of the soldier written on it.  The two stamps show six cents was paid to receive the letter.
    These examples are not presented as "definitive", but only as "illustrative" and "interesting".  As I said, I pulled these four examples off the web from sites that were selling them, so I do not have additional information to add beyond what we see on the covers.  There was a "standard practice" that was supposed to be followed . . . then real life brought variations.  I hope my grouping them together for you might be helpful in giving you some options to use in building your living history displays.  Any comment or additional information will be appreciated.