Remembering two game changers in American history that occurred this week

Remembering two game changers in American history that occurred this week

Lincolns Gettysburg Address

150 years ago,

November 19, 1863

and

John F. Kennedy

50 years ago,

November 22, 1963.

The sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincolns Gettysburg Address, dedicating a cemetery to the war dead from the previous July, on both sides, on-site at the watershed battle of the Civil War, marks the occasion 150 years earlier where our greatest president expressed, and indeed confirmed for all time, the spiritual commitment all Americans have for their country and its democratic form of government. The ending of Lincolns short 300 word speech says it all in the last sentence:

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.

The shocking, tragic and villainous assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas 50 years ago today is hardly the positive occasion associated with most anniversaries. But anniversary it is none the less, because like the Gettysburg Address that happened the same week 100 years earlier in 1863, it reset Americas course.

President Kennedy, like President Lincoln, was one of Americas all-time great orators because, like Lincoln, he tapped into Americas soul, represented best by his Lincolnesque and most famous call to action: And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country will do for you, ask what you can do for your country

When Kennedy was shot dead that Friday afternoon 50 years ago, those who were alive at the time remember where they were when they got the riveting news. And for them, America would never be the same. Never would there be the blank–check trust that they had for their government institutions before November 22, 1963, evidenced dramatically in the domestic turmoil that characterized the rest of the 1960s with more assassinations and the widespread radicalization of the civil rights and anti-war movements.

Game changers though these two November events were in American politics, Lincolns Gettysburg Address and the assassination of Kennedy each solidified the genius of America, first envisioned and organized by the Founding Fathers in 1776, where American democratic institutions were held fast as worth fully embracing and preserving for the simple reason that they and the government they create exist to serve Americans, all of us, instead of the other way around.

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