After the Union victory of Gettysburg, a group of citizens came to serenade the White House, and President Lincoln addressed them with these words:

“Fellow-citizens: I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call, but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. How long ago is it? — eighty odd years — since on the Fourth of July for the first time in the history of the world a nation by its representatives, assembled and declared as a self-evident truth that ‘all men are created equal.’ That was the birthday of the United States.”

Lincoln surmised in his trademark style of simple yet elegant words the entire promise of America, set forward in that grand ideal that our skin color, our family backgrounds, our economic fortunes or lack thereof, do not give us our value. Our value, our great human equality, comes intrinsically to all of us from God.

Last week, the holiday Juneteenth commemorated the end of slavery in the United States. The lamentable chapter of human bondage that had stained our republic from its founding was purged by the blood of Union soldiers and the sweeping words and deeds of Lincoln and Grant. They lived and died that America’s deepest promise might finally and permanently be fulfilled.

May we reflect on the promise of America, may we remember the sacrifices of those from the Revolution to Martin Luther King Jr. to our own time who have advanced the cause of “liberty and justice for all.” And may we commit to finishing the great work they “thus far so nobly advanced."

Garrison Moratto, College Station, Texas

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