On the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s monumental Gettysburg Address, an America being led by a black president should be seen as a great step forward in just a few short generations. Unfortunately, that same leader has done everything in his power to sully the message of that historic speech.
Though Barack Obama claims to be among Lincoln’s most ardent admirers, he could not be bothered to join the celebration marking the speech’s anniversary. Chalking his snub up to a scheduling conflict, Obama sent a representative in his stead.
Not only is it disturbing that the most disengaged president in modern history cannot find the time to mark such a momentous occasion; a recently released video clip of Obama reciting the Gettysburg Address raised further concerns.
As part of a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns, Obama joined a number of other politicians and public figures in paying homage to the speech. While every other guest recited one particular line as Lincoln did, Obama made one conspicuous omission.
While the original orator declared “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom,” Obama neglected to include the “under God” portion.
After the story broke, a website dedicated to the documentary claimed that Obama was specifically asked to recite a draft of the speech that omitted God. Oddly enough, if this is true, it would mean he was the only speaker faced with such a demand.
Practitioners of many faiths – especially Christianity – feel increasingly excluded from the Obama administration. A man who campaigned as a believer has spent years distancing himself from any embrace of his faith.
Though it struck many as merely a convenient excuse, even if producers did ask Obama to read a different version of the address, he could have easily refused. As he is so keen to point out, he is the president and can basically do whatever he wishes.
Such a devoted follower of Lincoln could have obviously paid him a proper tribute by reciting the final version of his groundbreaking speech. The fact that he didn’t says a lot.
–B. Christopher Agee
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