Colleagues and Students,

150 years ago this month, President Abraham Lincoln traveled to speak at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, which just four months earlier had been the site of the bloodiest quarter-day battle in the history of our nation, with more than 15,000 casualties in little over 6 hours. As he rose to honor the war dead, he also issued a challenge to all of us — the living then and those of us who follow them today — to dedicate ourselves to the unfinished work of those soldiers who gave their lives in battle: the preservation of a country and society worthy of their sacrifice.

Today is Veterans Days — a time for us to pause and reflect on the contributions of our nation’s veterans, current service members, and their families. We also join in remembering those who have given their lives to protect this country and its people, whether at Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, Bellau Wood, Khe Sanh or Baghdad. And we honor as well all those who have served alongside them, in each and every capacity; paraphrasing Lincoln from a personal letter he wrote of December 2, 1863: Honor also to those who cared for their fellows in the field, serving, in their roles, the same cause.

So as we honor our veterans today, let’s also remember Lincoln’s challenge — and ask ourselves what we’re doing, individually and as a community, to preserve and strengthen a society worthy of the sacrifice that generations of soldiers and families have made for all of us.


Dr. Tony Frank