President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address It strikes me that, as in no time since President Lincoln delivered this address dedicating the Soldiers' National Cemetery where many of the 46,286 who perished at Gettysburg were buried, his words echo down to us through history and give us warning of where we ourselves are now headed. The civil War didn't erupt overnight. It was 25 to 30 years in the making. The economic and sociopolitical issues that led to those fateful shots being fired at Ft. Sumter in 1861 brewed, boiled, fermented and finally spilled out into a shooting war after years of polarization, enmity and infighting between North and South. Angry words were exchanged in Congress, presidents alternately addressed the issues aggressively or ignored them completely. "Do-nothing" chief executives like Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce left a deeply divided and angry nation on the brink of war, and their successor, James Buchanan, utterly failed to understand the political realities of the day. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is. It mirrors today's turmoil and polarization. Rather than economics competing between regions and the issue of slavery keeping the pot boiling, we have political ideologies at war with one another, with a questionable majority using its influence over a largely uneducated young public to bring about rapid and controversial change to the very way government functions, and how it relates to its citizenry. We are long days from war. But left unchecked, with no compromiser and no competency rising up to bring reasonable resolution to the issues of the day, we are headed in that direction. Will a future president one day stand upon a battlefield, not on foreign soil but on our own, looking at countless thousands of graves following a great battle pitting brother against brother, as did Lincoln, and feel that the words above, written 150 years ago today, are the only fitting words to speak over those silent graves? God help us, I pray not.