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On this hallowed ground, heroic deeds were performed and eloquent words were spoken a
We, the living, have not forgotten--and the world will never forget--the deeds or the
words of Gettysburg. We honor them now as we join on this Memorial Day of 1963 in a
prayer for permanent peace of the world and fulfillment of our hopes for universal freedom
We are called to honor our own words of reverent prayer with resolution in the deeds we must
perform to preserve peace and the hope of freedom.
We keep a vigil of peace around the world.
Until the world knows no aggressors, until the arms of tyranny have been laid down, until
freedom has risen up in every land, we shall maintain our vigil to make sure our sons who
died on foreign fields shall not have died in vain.
As we maintain the vigil of peace, we must remember that justice is a vigil, too--a vigil
we must keep in our own streets and schools and among the lives of all our people--so
that those who died here on their native soil shall not have died in vain.
One hundred years ago, the slave was freed.
One hundred years later, the *** remains in bondage to the color of his skin.
The *** today asks justice.
We do not answer him--we do not answer those who lie beneath this soil--when we reply to
the *** by asking, "Patience."
It is empty to plead that the solution to the dilemmas of the present rests on the hands
of the clock. The solution is in our hands. Unless we are willing to yield up our destiny
of greatness among the civilizations of history, Americans--white and *** together--must
be about the business of resolving the challenge which confronts us now.
Our nation found its soul in honor on these fields of Gettysburg one hundred years ago.
We must not lose that soul in dishonor now on the fields of hate.
To ask for patience from the *** is to ask him to give more of what he has already given
enough. But to fail to ask of him--and of all Americans--perseverance within the processes
of a free and responsible society would be to fail to ask what the national interest
requires of all its citizens.
The law cannot save those who deny it but neither can the law serve any who do not use
it. The history of injustice and inequality is a history of disuse of the law. Law has
not failed--and is not failing. We as a nation have failed ourselves by not trusting the
law and by not using the law to gain sooner the ends of justice which law alone serves.
If the white over-estimates what he has done for the *** without the law, the *** may
under-estimate what he is doing and can do for himself with the law.
If it is empty to ask *** or white for patience, it is not empty--it is merely honest--to ask
perseverance. Men may build barricades--and others may hurl themselves against those barricades--but
what would happen at the barricades would yield no answers. The answers will only be
wrought by our perseverance together. It is deceit to promise more as it would be cowardice
to demand less.
In this hour, it is not our respective races which are at stake--it is our nation. Let
those who care for their country come forward, North and South, white and ***, to lead
the way through this moment of challenge and decision.
The *** says, "Now." Others say, "Never." The voice of responsible Americans--the voice
of those who died here and the great man who spoke here--their voices say, "Together."
There is no other way.
Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned
with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact. To
the extent that the proclamation of emancipation is not fulfilled in fact, to that extent we
shall have fallen short of assuring freedom