272 Words (in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address)

Abraham Lincoln, by Daniel Chester French.  Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC.  Photo by Callen Harty.

Abraham Lincoln, by Daniel Chester French. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. Photo by Callen Harty.

For two hundred years and a quarter and more, this land of the free and home of the brave has strived to create a world where all men and women are truly created equal.

This nation has always been engaged in war, on battlefields turned graveyards the world over. For all those left on the battlefields of our nation’s history, from Saratoga to World War I, from Gettysburg to Viet Nam, from the shot heard round the world to the most recent casualty in Afghanistan, we seek to honor them by living in peace.

But we cannot honor our veterans, we cannot bless their graves, unless we work to ensure that no more soldiers shall die in vain, that this nation they loved will give birth to a new vision, a nation that truly turns swords into ploughshares, that looks first for peaceful solutions instead of retribution. We must build a nation that leads the world not by threats but by words of encouragement, not by flexing its muscles but by reaching out its hands in friendship, not by brute force but by arms that uplift others.

We must stop the production of arms, the creation of killing machines—human and mechanical—and we must stop killing each other in civil wars in cities across our own country. We must look at ourselves and the way we live in order to change the way of the world. When we do we will have a new birth and we will have a nation that leads the world into an era of peace and tranquility—an entire world of, by, and for the people.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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