‘Shall Not Perish’

by Jay Nordlinger

Happy Memorial Day, everybody. Can you say such a thing? I think so: In a sense, it’s happy to honor those who have been killed while defending their country.

(Sometimes, I like to avoid euphemisms such as “fallen”: “to remember the fallen.” They were killed.)

Today, we’re beginning my “Oslo Journal” on the homepage. This will be a multipart journal on the Oslo Freedom Forum, the annual human-rights gathering in the Norwegian capital. For Part I, go here.

As I say in my journal, my favorite Lincoln memorial, outside of Washington, D.C., is the one in Oslo: in Frogner Park. A large lilac bush is near it. (Oslo is full of lilacs.) This reminds me of Whitman’s elegy, concerning Lincoln: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

The Lincoln memorial in Frogner Park was given by the Norwegian Americans of North Dakota in 1914 — the hundredth anniversary of the Norwegian constitution. It was presented, unaccidentally, on the Fourth of July.

It includes the final words of the greatest of all American speeches, the Gettysburg Address: “… government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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