Uncle Louis Speaks: Testing Whether the Nation, Conceived in Liberty, Can Long Endure


I have been away for a few days, celebrating Uncle Louis’ one hundredth birthday. I found him in good health, considering his advanced age, and with a mind that remains sharp. He was, as ever, a keen observer of human foibles, with many prescient insights.

There were around 100 people at the big party: four generations of my uncle’s descendants, and a large number of his late wife’s relatives. The came from all over the South. Almost everyone in the room was descended from Confederate soldiers. I am sure that a very large portion of them voted for Trump.

A first cousin once removed led us in a pious prayer. Everyone said amen. He then reminded of Uncle Louis’s renown for his prodigious memory and ability to recite works of literature.

Uncle Louis arose, thanked us all for coming, expressed other appropriate sentiments, and proceeded to recite some poems. He then announced that his last recitation would be the Gettysburg Address—delivered, as Uncle Louis said, by our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln.

And so now, gentle readers, let us listen with open hearts and minds as we hear Uncle Louis recite the Gettysburg Address to a room full of Trump supporters:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 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.