The Symphony and its incessant demands upon Warren first and our household second is the reason the vacation got cut down, but as I quickly learned during our abbreviated travels, my health and energy levels were not up to a lengthy, extensive road trip. (Food for thought as we peer into the future.) I loved Fallingwater (my first time there), I loved Gettysburg (my third or fourth time there), and I loved turning back into our driveway at about 6:45 tonight.
I am too worn out to write much and not yet ready to reflect on everything, but I wanted to talk briefly about the Gettysburg Address. You cannot be at Gettysburg without being aware of Lincoln's speech, 271 words (by the most accepted version) that some historians say presented us with a new perspective on what the vision of the "United States" really meant. So it is no surprise that the Address is prominent throughout the Visitor's Center, and that in addition to hearing it in the film "A New Birth of Freedom," one can also sit in a gallery devoted to the Address and hear it repeatedly.
Whenever I have heard or thought of the ending of the Address, I have always heard the prepositions stressed: "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. "But in the version I heard this week, the stress was different: "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." It was such a radically different reading that I walked back to the one gallery and listened to the Address three more times.
To put the emphasis on the people turned the Address inside out for me. It has always been meaningful; now it became powerful as well.
We are not engaged in a great civil war in the same way this nation was 150 years ago. It is difficult to be at Gettysburg and not realize the tremendous scope of that battle and that war. But we are caught up in a time of uncertainty and unrest. For me and many of my friends, this is a time of feeling we are losing precious ground on issues of race, gender, fairness, equality, civility. As the 2016 presidential race gears up ridiculously early and the GOP frontrunner is a flamingly offensive, misogynistic, racist bigot, I think back to Lincoln and those 271 words.
Of the people.
By the people.
For the people.
Let us indeed hold tight onto that hope.