U.S. history is replete with rescuers. I’ve have given much thought to our nation’s current divide. We need rescuing. Right now, from ourselves. Who will step up?
A Story From Our Past
They were exhausted. The nation horribly divided. President Abraham Lincoln entered the White House four years earlier, determined to save the Union, and along the way, to free African-Americans from their bondage and secure their right to vote. Likewise, General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee had waged four long, bloody years of war against each other. Both longed for peace.
On April 11, 1865, just two days after Lee surrendered to Grant, Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech to an unexpectedly large crowd that collected beneath a window where he stood at the White House. The city was awash with celebration as citizens took to the streets. He said in part:
“The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace, whose joyous expression cannot be restrained. In the midst of this however, He from whom all blessings flow must not be forgotten. A call for national thanksgiving is being prepared and will be duly promulgated.”
President Lincoln rescued our nation from its near demise, and earned his place in the annals of history as perhaps our greatest president. General Grant and the Union Army became his instrument of destruction against those states that had seceded, and the evil institution of human bondage.
Robert E. Lee, fighting for millions of Americans, prayed ardently to the same God that President Lincoln mentioned days before his assassination.
All believed in their own cause, but they turned against each other, and the United States of America came perilously close to destruction.
Today our beloved country is again at risk of being torn apart, with Americans attacking each other with vitriol such that I’ve never witnessed in my adult life. And it’s beginning to spill onto our streets. We all enjoy the freedoms to peacefully protest, and express our points of view. But it seems that we are again turning away from each other, denying the very right we all have to vote our convictions and speak our minds without being branded as something less than American.
My point here is not to engage in political debate, but rather to look back at our great heritage and give thanks for the union that binds us. Each free to disagree, but to do so with respect.
I am wondering, who, or what, will rescue us today? Certainly, it must start with each of us, regardless of opinion or affiliation, to search our hearts and find our better angels.
For me, I will extend every courtesy and grace befitting those around me. And I will continue to beseech the one President Lincoln referred to—He from whom all blessings flow—as we seek to find our national footing again.
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson