A Memorable Speech on this Election Day

It’s finally here – election day. We can finally say good-bye to all the political ads, mailers and robo-calls. In a week in which the President of all people called Republicans the “enemy,” I thought this excerpt from a Presidential inaugural speech speaks to the events of this day.

We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile…This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side or the other, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people…While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years…Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue…The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Abraham Lincoln, 1861, from his first inaugural address to the nation. Beneath an unfinished Capital dome, Lincoln spoke before a divided nation and asked for civility.  While our nation remains divided, we must not give into the worst of ourselves and create further divisiveness. Today, you can go and make your voice heard. Nothing gets better from inaction. You can make a difference.

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