By Boyd Matheson
When we honor those who have paid the ultimate price we rightly reference the words of Abraham Lincoln, that “they gave the last full measure of devotion.” We often miss, however, Lincoln’s powerful and immediate pivot to the future, to us – “that we here highly resolve.” He recognized that that those we honor have already done their part and passed their test. Lincoln knew the real question was whether each of us would be highly resolved to do our individual duty.
To be highly resolved is not a casual decision but requires complete commitment. Far too many in America are content to “give it a try” or “take a shot at it” without the deep and powerful force of a highly resolved total commitment. Many choose to try, but few commit to do.
A well-known biblical verse says, “Choose ye this day,” but the more powerful translation from Greek is “Commit ye this day.” The difference between a choice and commitment is too big to measure though the results are stunningly apparent. Thus choosing freedom is vastly different from having a highly resolved commitment to freedom.
A wise man who understood the power of a highly resolved total commitment declared, “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth. … That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”
This is not a day for hesitancy, drawing back or ineffectiveness. Our country needs highly resolved individuals to stand up and speak out for the principles and policies that have fostered an amazing America. Our state houses and legislatures need bold, committed leaders with stronger backbones than jawbones. Our communities need more men and women of commitment who care about creating a better neighborhood and nation.
Rereading the final section of the Gettysburg Address challenges us to gratefully remember those who gave all, lifts our gaze toward the great task and test before us as a nation and implores us to be highly resolved in our commitment to the future of freedom.
Listen to Lincoln’s final call and question, “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.”
Boyd Matheson is president of Sutherland Institute.