November 15, 2013

The Value of Freedom

On November 19 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, a 272 word speech delivered following the famous battle between the states. The address wasn’t so much intended to admonish or congratulate any group of people but to point out to ALL people the value of our freedom and how fortunate we are to have that freedom. In today’s world where we observe many countries whose citizens are not allowed the benefits we have in our society, we should do all we can to remain cognizant of the freedoms we tend to take for granted. 

One of our Northwood University values conveyed in our Code of Ethics is freedom, which we express as: “We will exercise personal freedom while ensuring others be immune from arbitrary interference due to condition or circumstance, ensuring freedom will be constrained only by our responsibility for its consequences.”  These words echo so much of what President Lincoln spoke to in his Gettysburg Address.  For many of us, the Address is a “long ago and far away” memory of our history teachings in school, so we thought it would be good to include that text here so we can all recall the bravery not only of President Lincoln in those difficult days for our country but also his call to all of us that our nation “shall have a new birth of freedom…”, a value we prize and share at Northwood University. 

The Gettysburg Address

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met now on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate… we cannot consecrate… we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom… and that government of the people… by the people… for the people… shall not perish from the earth.” 

Veterans’ Day

On Monday of this week, we also celebrated Veterans’ Day in the United States in honor of the many women and men who have served our country in the military.  The late President John F. Kennedy summed up our reason for this special day: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.”

Take a moment this weekend and every day to be thankful for all our freedoms and for those who have served all of us in the military service of our country.

Enjoy your weekend!


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640