155 years ago, on November 19, 1863, Lincoln delivered what has become his most famous address. He was not the main speaker and his remarks lasted all but two minutes. However, what he said captured the hearts and minds of Americans then, as well as serving as a reminder for us today. To understand its significance, we must be reminded about how strategic the battle of Gettysburg was and why Lincoln spoke on the battlefield only four months later. Lincoln’s remarks can also remind us of our Pilgrim roots as a nation and why we must continue to keep them alive.
The Pledge of Allegiance has an interesting history and has gone through several revisions before its final rendition in 1954 which we continue to recite today. The phrase “under God” has clarified our unity as a nation and is consistent with our history. This phrase has kept us from the dangerous trend toward nationalism on one hand (my country right or wrong) and secularism on the other (having no declaration of God’s sovereignty over the nation at all).
Many may not realize that the original Pledge did not have the phrase “under God” within it. But did you know that the addition of this critical phrase came from a sermon? Let’s rehearse the rest of the story.