American Scripture

-by: Harvey Cantor

We will all remember for the rest of our lives the morning of September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked and thousands died. September 11, 2001 will live in history, as December 7, 1941 has for sixty years, as a turning point in America's history with a call to Americans to unite in a common cause. Our enemies have taken for granted the resolve of the American people.

On December 7, 1941 as the Japanese naval planes were returning to their carriers after the second wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto abruptly canceled the third wave of the attack after he had learned that the US aircraft carriers were not in port and that the Japanese honor was shamed because the formal declaration of war by Japan to the United States was hand delivered late, after the attack had commenced. His officers were arguing with him to continue his attack. Yamamoto, who was educated in America, knew his adversary. He told his officers, " I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant, and filled him with terrible resolve." The resolve of America will be proven again

It seems that the graver the country's situation is, the more the words of our forefathers become more relevant. To me the words of Abraham Lincoln are American Scripture. I feel that his following words are fitting for this hour as they were when first written.

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

--From the December 1, 1862, Message to Congress "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."

-Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

"I pray that our Heavenly Father may ease the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

-From the Nov. 21, 1864

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

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