Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Callen Harty

For two hundred years and a quarter and more, this land of the free and home of the brave has strived to create a world where all men and women are truly created equal. This nation has always been engaged in war, on battlefields turned graveyards the world over. For all those left on the battlefields of our nation’s history, from Saratoga to World War I, from Gettysburg to Viet Nam, from the shot heard round the world to the most recent casualty in Afghanistan, we seek to honor them by living in peace. But we cannot honor our veterans, we cannot bless their graves, unless we work to ensure that no more soldiers shall die in vain, that this nation they loved will give birth to a new vision, a nation that truly turns swords into ploughshares, that looks first for peaceful solutions instead of retribution. We must build a nation that leads the world not by threats but by words of encouragement, not by flexing its muscles but by reaching out its hands in friendship, not by brute force but by arms that uplift others. We must stop the production of arms, the creation of killing machines—human and mechanical—and we must stop killing each other in civil wars in cities across our own country. We must look at ourselves and the way we live in order to change the way of the world. When we do we will have a new birth and we will have a nation that leads the world into an era of peace and tranquility—an entire world of, by, and for the people.