How are we to understand the wisdom of embracing the value of diversity in today’s society, without first seeking to understand a time in our nation’s history when intolerance and discrimination were sanctioned?
Gettysburg represents the collision of two separately created arrangements of elaborate value-based systems, systems whose validation sought and found refuge in the persecution of the objects of their own disdain. Both systems were predicated on the preservation of a "way of life". Both systems, a self-deception. A self-deception sustained by a perceived love of order, an allegiance to a perceived justice; but in reality an embodiment of prejudice and apathy, a fraud.
The North fought to preserve The Union, and was willing to abrogate those aspects of The Constitution necessary for the achievement of its ends. A Union, whose interpretation and application of the tenets of our Constitution which speak to the equality of mankind, was at best parochial; a shameless and cruel hoax from its inception forward.
The South fought to preserve State’s Rights and the ensuing legality to remand human beings to bondage, as chattel; to support an antiquated economic structure.
In the middle, our Constitution, honored by neither; trampled upon by both.
Why are we going to Gettysburg? The words of John Hope Franklin
are all telling: "we need to see our past for what it was and is, and not explain it away, excuse it, or justify it."
We go to Gettysburg to better understand that which hatred and intolerance spawn.
We go to Gettysburg in the hope of discovering a desire to create an enlightened public; for this can only exist by the efforts of those who desire that it should exist.
We go to Gettysburg to celebrate the promise that despite our differences all men and women are created equal and are afforded the same inalienable rights by our Constitution, truths we hold to be self-evident.
We go to Gettysburg to unite.
In spite of ourselves, we are still here today; fighting the same battles that were fought at Gettysburg. If, as a society, we can come together; we can then begin to open our hearts. And should this only occur one generation at a time, then it will be one generation less at risk to forfeit a rational appreciation for the advantages of social cooperation, tolerance, and respect.
Jeffrey A. Schwartz, Mayor
The Village of Downs