"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 on a great battle-field 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."
94 years later, two simple words from this most famous speech, "under God", were added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America. The Pledge itself had earlier been adopted by the 79th Congress on December 28, 1945, as Public Law 287. But on June 14, 1954, a joint resolution of Congress, 243 (Public Law 83-396), added Lincoln’s succinctly eloquent acknowledgement to the sovereignty of God.
Thus, on June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law the newly worded pledge: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which is stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
As he did, he stated the following as a way of showing his support for this Congressional Act:
"In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war."
Immediately thereafter, President Eisenhower stood on the steps of the Capitol Building and recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time with the phrase, "one nation under God".
Perhaps the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower deserves renewed consideration over this Independence Day weekend. For now, perhaps more than ever, America needs to strengthen those "spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war".