Remembering what they did at Gettysburg
Seven score and nine years ago, on Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln offered a brief speech at Gettysburg. He had come to dedicate a cemetery, the final resting place for thousands of soldiers who had died there six months earlier in a battle of the Civil War that played a huge role in saving the union.
"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here," the president declared.
It truly is remarkable that thousands of Americans, including in Pennsylvania, are so willing to forget not only what Mr. Lincoln said but what the fallen did at Gettysburg. By blithely attaching their signatures - or in many cases their initials - to online secession petitions, they have mocked the sacrifices made through the centuries that have made the United States a nation.
More than 750,000 people, from a national population of 30 million, died in the fight to determine the degree to which the United States would be a free nation.
It is pathetic now to hear modern would-be secessionists grouse over their grievance: the candidate they favored lost a democratic election.
For the most part, the secession petitions have been greeted with the derision they deserve. Yet it is galling that so many Americans could be so ignorant of history.
So, as the new epic movie "Lincoln" reminds Americans of the 16th president's genius in preserving the union, it might be wise for those who mock him to consider his words at Gettysburg:
"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."
Most Americans understand, regardless of whether they were disappointed in the election outcome. So far, the total number of secession signatures - in a diverse nation of 310 million - is smaller than the number of Americans who died during the Civil War.