Eleven score and eleven years ago

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 1, 2017

By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins

On a small rise, on a cold and blustery day in November, a gaunt man slowly stood to address the crowd. The speaker before him had orated for over two hours, yet his words have not echoed across the decades, as the few which were soon spoken. He began, “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, on this continent a new nation.” In his conclusion, he remarked, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

These immortal words, from President Abraham Lincoln, speak to us today as, indeed, we do remember his words. We have now come to eleven score and eleven years from those fateful days of 1776. Today, we still find ourselves in conflict over what constitutes history, equality and sensibility. We as a nation, as a free people, are continuing to define what makes us great, as we have expressed our concerns about the potential of falling from greatness. For, in the analysis, this is what makes us great; in our continuing definitions.

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We certainly owe so much to those who have come before. This Monday marks the annual celebration of our country from tyranny. It also marks the beginning of our defining of what it means to be an American. The underlying structure is our ongoing history of defiance of oppressive authority.

From the Puritans at Plymouth, to the Patriots in Boston Harbor, on to Gettysburg, the past’s many world conflicts, and for those who stand up to today, we are a country who vigorously acts; much to the awe of the rest of the world.

They have a difficult understanding of how discord can be discourse, and without anarchy.

However, it is often difficult to define the common thread of our nation. Certainly, we are from many social backgrounds, ethnicities and traditions. In the analysis, we are indeed the proverbial melting pot; where the individual traits are filtered to become the norm.

Perhaps the singular greatest thread, for all Americans, is their belief in God. Surveys tell us that 96 percent of us believe in a divine power, greater than ourselves. Brief surveys, of a small village to a large city, will reveal many places of worship. Whether they be cathedrals, mosques, chapels, synagogues, temples, or storefronts, their commonality is their worship of God.

At the core, of their worship, is the fundamental belief that the individual may commune directly with God, is accountable to God, and that the relationship is wholly personal. Yet, this does not mean the believer is not without responsibility for their fellow creatures. This does not mean that any believer may act independently of the other. In other words, true independence relies on the inter-dependence of those for the common good.

As we join together, on this long weekend with family and friends, let us take a moment to remember those who came before us. Let us also offer our prayers of thanksgivings to God, regardless of our faiths; for the fathomless blessings, we enjoy this day and each day, and to give us the strength for America to always be great, in His eyes.