|Getting Gettysburg right
By Mark Alexander
Last week we marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, a three-minute speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. That battlefield was the site of the bloodiest conflict in the War Between the States, a three-day battle in July of 1863 that resulted in 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederate casualties.
Lincoln was a self-taught man whose formal schooling added up to less than one year. But he penned this remarkable, concise and eloquent address, which not only captured a pivotal moment in a war-torn nation, but also paid tribute with words that honored all Americans. And he managed to say it without teleprompters.
One notable catalyst, which sparked this horrific war, was the abolition of slavery. Lincoln's party was Republican, but in a tragically ironic twist of fate, the Democrat Party has now mastered the cowing of 95% of black Americans as its most loyal constituency. They accomplished this transition by instituting social policies that have enslaved generations of poor people on urban poverty plantations, and then ensuring their fealty with massive redistributive handouts and victimization indoctrination promoting dependency on the state.
Barack Obama, who used Lincoln's Bible for his inaugurations and who envisions himself the finest legacy example of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation -- though he has no slave ancestry on this continent -- was narcissistically compelled to chime in on the anniversary recognition.
Notably, Obama offered up his videotaped recitation of the Gettysburg Address for historian Ken Burns' 150th anniversary Web dedication to Lincoln's timeless words.
In his recitation of the address, however, Obama predictably omitted two key words. Lincoln said, "that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." But Obama altered his recitation, leaving "under God" out.
For the record, Ken Burns recited it correctly. George W. Bush was also among the handful of participants for Burns' project, and he recited it correctly. Even Democrat National Chairwoman, ultra-leftist Debbie Wasserman Schultz, recited it correctly.
For a little historical perspective, Lincoln's use of "under God" is sometimes disputed -- mostly by those who object to those words today. The words do not appear in two historic drafts (Nicolay and Hay) but do appear in three drafts (Everett, Bancroft, and Bliss). However, the best evidence of what Lincoln said is the verbatim text of his speech, which was telegraphed by numerous journalists to their newspapers on the very day he delivered his address.
Among the journalists in witness were Joseph Gilbert with the Associated Press, John Young with the Philadelphia Press (who would later become Librarian of Congress), Charles Hale with the Boston Advertiser, and other reporters from the New York Tribune and The New York Times. Each of their telegraphs included the words "under God," and as noted by historian William E. Barton:
"Every stenographic report, good, bad and indifferent, says 'that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.' There was no common source from which all the reporters could have obtained those words but from Lincoln's own lips at the time of delivery."
Indeed, as reported by The New York Times the day after Lincoln's delivery, he included the words, "under God." (That original text is posted here). Historians may debate Lincoln's legacy as president, but there is no disputing his religious devotion and his very deliberate use of "under God" at Gettysburg.
So why did Obama choose to omit these essential words?
Barack Obama has a long history of omitting references to God, such as his repeated omission of "endowed by our Creator" when referencing the Declaration of Independence.
So what is Obama's overarching objective?
Under the pretense of "religious tolerance," Barack Obama's administration has been quietly advancing his mandate to remove all expressions or manifestations of faith from government forums -- excepting Islam. This eradication serves the Left's strategic objective of replacing God-given Rule of Law with the rule of men -- because the former is predicated on the principle of Liberty "endowed by our Creator," while the latter asserts that Liberty is the gift of potentates and presidents.
Obama's administrators are constantly endeavoring to drive wedges between Liberty and its inherent foundational endowment. Most notably, he has done this in those spheres where he can exercise power and influence without legislative and judicial precedents -- such as our military.
As commander in chief, Obama has certainly succeeded in suppressing religious expression by uniformed Patriots in our military service branches. However, his subversion of faith expression in the military is not going without objection.
For example, last year The Patriot uncovered what appears to be a legal setup by Obama's DoD civilian administrators and their surrogates, which has the potential to force the removal of "so help me God" from all military oaths. That strategic ploy starts with the 2011 removal of those words from officer, enlisted and cadet oaths at the Air Force Academy. Three weeks ago, we published a detailed account of that strategy. This week, in response to that column, 28 members of Congress issued an official letter of inquiry to the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy asking for "a detailed explanation as to why [they omitted] 'so help me God' from these oaths, despite the fact that the phrase is used in the very statutory language of the United States Code, and was part of the military oath drafted by the Founders themselves."
(A Fox News report notes the AFA's Public Affairs Office claimed last week, "It was an editorial oversight," however, a Freedom of Information Act request will be filed tomorrow in an effort to determine if anyone outside the AFA had a hand in the alteration of oaths.)
Typical of the "expert opinion" syndicated across the nation about our nation's Godly heritage, is that of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Mark Thompson, who posted an op/ed in Time magazine on the "So help me God" issue. Thompson's Pulitzer was earned for a series he wrote that led to enhanced military helicopter safety. Clearly it was not earned for his limited knowledge of civilian and military oaths.
Thompson asserted, "The formal American embrace of religion in civic government is a fairly recent phenomenon: 'Under God' was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. 'In God We Trust' became the nation's official motto in 1956. In 1957, 'In God We Trust' was added to U.S. paper currency."
He got the recent dates right, but his assertion that references to "God" are a "recent phenomenon" is patently, stupefyingly, incorrect.
Thompson should recall that the words "under God" were in the Gettysburg Address, as noted, but it is undeniable that the roots of that attribution date to our nation's inception and were inspired by the enlightened manifestos of natural law long before that.
The most formative words in our nation's seminal foundational document, the Declaration of Independence, assert that Liberty is "endowed by their Creator," not the gift of man, as Barack Obama and his Leftist cadres assert today.
The Continental Congress established its first military oath in 1776 and revised it in 1778 -- both ending with "So help me God."
The words "So help me God" were prescribed in oaths by the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. But five months earlier, George Washington elected to use those same words in conclusion to the first oath of office as president.
Invoking faith was a common theme for Washington and most other Founders, as in these words from his farewell address in 1796: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensible supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. ... Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths..."
The words "In God we trust" first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864, long before it was added to currency in 1957. And one of the earliest references to "In God We Trust" was in the last verse of our National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key penned the words, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust,'" after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814.
But Obama and his like-minded Pulitzer-wielding pontificators are busy redacting references to our Creator.
This week we observe with reverence our timeless Thanksgiving holiday, which has been celebrated appropriately throughout our history. We do so as a nation, because a month before his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln officially designated a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," on the fourth Thursday of November.
In his proclamation, Lincoln referenced the "ever watchful providence of Almighty God." He noted of our innumerable blessings, "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God," and recommended "offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him," that we all may "fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace."
Of course, the first Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by George Washington in 1789. He declared, "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God," that all Americans should "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions..."
That history notwithstanding, last year, as with all his previous Thanksgiving addresses, Barack Obama refused to credit our Creator in acknowledgment of Thanksgiving, just as he has omitted God from other historic references.
At the conclusion of his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln affirmed, "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." That reference was to our constitutional republic, not Obama's vision for the People's Socialist Democratic Republic.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.