11/20/2013 11:39 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Reflections on Gettysburg and the Anniversary of JFK's Assassination

The confluence of the the anniversary of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination has provided a unique background canvas for the current media commentary on both historic events. The innovative spoken word segments of the Gettysburg Address by various media personalities produced by the celebrated filmmaker Ken Burns should be seen and heard by all.

And, of course, at this time of reflection about both anniversaries, we are fortunate to have access to the seminal works of Gary Wills' Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America and William Manchester's Death of a President, about the assassination of President Kennedy.

Aside from Ken Burns' production and the authors Wills and Manchester, a pause and reflection about both anniversaries may have even more special meaning today. It provides us with yet another opportunity to ask: just what kind of country do we want to be today?

Do we want to end or continue the political "civil war" that has been launched against the election and re-election of President Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president? Lincoln's 272-word address at the blood-soaked fields of Gettysburg seems to be especially prescient today.

While the Civil War is over, the legacy and consequences of slavery upon our current generation have not ended. Its sustaining ideology of white supremacy endures.

Some journalists and television commentators continue to tip toe around the issue of whether or not much of the political opposition to President Obama is "race based."

Hello! Is the Pope Catholic? 150 years after President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, a significant segment of white people in America are still motivated by racism directed toward President Obama and ANYTHING he does or proposes.

Regrettably, the president provides fuel for this animus toward him when he is perceived as being "untrustworthy" or "dishonest" in connection with his public assurances about certain features of the Affordable Care Act's adverse, unintended, impact upon new enrollees. Added to this is a growing unease that President Obama has not been "straight" or honest with the American people with respect to the extent of the National Security Agency's spying on our domestic emails and phone calls.

And, as this is being written, news reports are circulating that the president may be backtracking or clearly contradicting his campaign assurances to the American people that our troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2014. Information now coming from a "Status of Forces Agreement" currently being negotiated with the Afghanistan government, under which American military forces are being committed, to remain there until 2024!

What needed funding for domestic programs will be eliminated or not even considered for funding in order to financially maintain our troops in Afghanistan?

Is this any way to commemorate the anniversaries of the Gettysburg Address and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy?