With malice toward none, with charity for all.
As President Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural on March 4, 1865, the Civil War was winding down. Within five weeks of Lincoln’s address to a few thousand standing in mud on Pennsylvania Avenue, General Lee would surrender. Within six weeks, President Lincoln would be dead. This experiment without precedent – our grand experiment – of a government of the people, by the people, for the people, would have to carry on without him.
I think of Lincoln in these difficult times, in part, because I recently had the opportunity to tour Gettysburg. It is a most sobering place. Though peaceful today, the echoes of cannon blasts and rifle fire haunt the landscape. The cries of soldiers, giving their last full measure of devotion, hallow the ground. To walk those fields, even in the still of the morning air, is to be moved to reflection on whether you have done enough to honor their sacrifice.
Whether you have done enough. Whether we have done enough.
Hundreds of thousands died, at Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields, to resolve whether we all have the same inalienable rights set forth in our Declaration of Independence and secured in our Constitution. We do. No matter your ancestry. No matter your affiliations. No matter your race. No matter your views. This nation … this government … of, by and for the people exists to secure and protect those inalienable rights.
Our little paradise on the bay is nearly three thousand miles from Gettysburg. We couldn’t be farther from Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas if we tried. But … here in Seaside … in the most inclusive and welcoming community on the peninsula, we need to heed the lessons of Louisiana, and Minnesota. We need to treat every citizen with respect and decency and empathy. We need to heed the lesson of Dallas; to respect the brave men and women who stand on that thin blue line for us. To hold them to the highest standard; but also to honor their service.
We need most to heed the lesson, and the legacy, of Gettysburg. That this great nation … this grand experiment in government of the people … can only endure as we stand together. With malice toward none. With charity, with respect, and with justice for all.
Mayor Ralph Rubio