In his article, "A Spirit Reborn," Safire reminded me of the things that we really should be considering today. We should be thinking of our unfinished work as citizens and students of the world. We should be thinking of the tasks that remain before us if we believe in the freedom our parents and ancestors died to protect.
Now, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, I wish to use this occasion as an opportunity to call attention once again to what our 16th President reminded us almost 140 years ago. William Safire tells us that Lincoln's "sermon at Gettysburg reminds us, the living, of our unfinished work and the great tasks remaining before us - to resolve that this generation's response to the deaths of thousands of our people leads to a new birth of freedom."
To you gathered here today, I say that this moment in time is and should be an opportunity for us to reflect on our own unfinished work. This is a time when each of us should look within our selves and ask what more can I do to reduce hate and create greater understanding. For those of us who are students our unfinished business may be to reassess our role as students and ask the question, "what if we were students one hundred years ago? Would it be easier or more difficult to be a student? For those of us who know of the oppression that is the result of racial or ethnic bigotry is it better or worse than one hundred years ago? Or Sixty years ago? If things are better now do we understand that conditions are better because men and women sacrificed to make them better?" When we try to answer questions such as these, we cannot help but begin to understand there is unfinished business and that each of us has yet a small role to play in making the world a better place.
For those of us who work within the walls of the academy, this University, whether as students or faculty we have a responsibility to help tend to the unfinished business of this nation. If we truly want to...
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