July 1 through July 3, 1863. The War of the Rebellion. Men taking action based on the courage of their convictions. You can’t fault them for that. An eager contingency of men who stood up and fought for what they truly believed in.

No lectures here about the United States’s penchant for becoming involved in battles they have no business fighting. Suffice to say I support the men but not the war, a viewpoint held since my male friends got their draft notices for Vietnam.

I visited Gettysburg during the autumn of 2006. It was the first season of my retirement and I was on a “Fall Foliage Tour” across New England. Gettysburg was one of the tour stops. Having taught US History to high school juniors, I was familiar with the story. But I was not prepared for the emotion.

I stood on the ridge where the Union and the Confederate armies faced each other with cannons loaded. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable; I felt the intensity of the scene. I could imagine the confusion on the battlefield, the smoke obscuring their sight. At last I understood.

If all you know of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is “Four score and seven years ago,” I invite you to go back and read it again. It’s short and to the point. When you get the point Lincoln was making, perhaps you, too, will understand.