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Two Fields in Pennsylvania

September 11, 2011

Every time I see the field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 — which was destined for the U.S. Capitol, but whose passengers fought to regain control — came down, I am struck by how close it is (barely 100 miles) to another field at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the fate of the nation once hung in the balance.  And I’m always reminded of the words that Abraham Lincoln spoke at a similar day of remembering, on that very field.  They are words that have been recited so often we have stopped hearing them, but are remarkably appropriate if we listen to them once again:

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.

As you remember 9/11, and all its heroes, please consider visiting and joining me in making a contribution to the national memorial being built in this second field in Pennsylvania.  God bless them, and God bless the United States of America.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    September 12, 2011 10:16 pm

    Thoughtful historical link, professor. It’s also seems to be the case that political speeches were both more humble and far-sighted than our current political rhetoric.

  2. Richard Browning permalink
    September 13, 2011 5:19 am

    We lost about 3000 people in New York on 9/11, a few in Washington D.C. and a few supposedly in Pennsylvania, but all of this is a drop in the bucket to the thousands of GI’s that have died and been maimed for life in Afghanistan and Iraq and the hundreds of thousands of innocent people we have killed in those countries that we invaded. The United States Government and especially the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld crowd should be tried for war crimes and torture.

  3. Richard Browning permalink
    September 13, 2011 5:20 am

    What do you mean “moderation”?

  4. Tim Teng permalink
    September 13, 2011 6:09 am


  5. gregorylent permalink
    September 14, 2011 9:47 pm

    gonna be a long memorial .. considering the flight 93 parts were scattered over 2.5 miles … shot down, i reckon

  6. gregorylent permalink
    September 14, 2011 9:48 pm

    and i would really prefer, if you have to “god bless” anyone, it be “god bless the world” and not just part of it.


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