Two score and 15 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln's birthday, my parents--John and Gail Fleming, now of Jacksonville, Florida--tied the knot. By so doing, they brought forth on this continent a new family, conceived in love and dedicated to the proposition that all things are possible for spouses, parents, and children who are patient, generous, good-humored, and devoted to each other, come what may.
There were times over the years when it seemed like we were engaged in a great civil war, testing whether our family or any family, so conceived and so dedicated, could long endure. But we've pretty much forgotten the great battlefields of those wars, the combatants having put aside perceived wrongs and embraced in forgiveness, so that that family might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should have done this.
The world will little note nor long remember what I say here, but we children will never forget what Mom and Dad did and sacrificed to keep our family knit together. It is for us rather to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they have thus far so nobly advanced by their wonderful example--raising good and strong families of our own--a cause to which they they have given, and we must give, the fullest measure of devotion. We children of John and Gail (and, if I may speak for them, their grandchildren) here highly resolve that their noble work shall not have been in vain; that this family, under God, shall have a new birth of commitment; and that thanks to them, we will have families of faith, of hope, and of love that shall never perish from the earth.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND DAD!
And thanks for the inspiration to Mr. Lincoln and his immortal Gettysburg Address.