Yesterday, Seth and I toured the battlefield and cemetery of Gettysburg. During the Civil War, the states sent their own battalions so everyone from a certain artillery group, for instance, came from the same place. And because each battalion had its own position on the field, the battalions suffered casualties at different rates. Some states lost a dozen or so while others, like New York, lost almost 800. Numbers are misleading, of course. A loss of 262 meant 82% of a Minnesota regiment died on a hill in a small town in Pennsylvania. And no one quite knows how many Confederates died, either. "We cannot consecrate..."
I read all the names of the soldiers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island who died there. The names from Massachusetts particularly were haunting. I recognized so many of the family names, I might as well have been browsing my high school yearbook.
Reading these names means that "we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain." In a time when it seems like our own countrymen are willing to pull to this country apart, it's important to remember others efforts and sacrifice "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."