The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced."
What Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg in 1863 is worth recalling as Iraq's election returns arrive and a new, four-year government-the first under that nation's new constitution-forms. Three times Iraqis have voted in 2005, each time protected by American and allied military might and their own emerging army and police forces. Perhaps 30,000 Iraqis have perished in the hard struggle to throw off tyranny, and more than 2,100 Americans as well. The cost of Iraqi freedom has been high.
At an American military cemetery outside of Florence, Italians annually salute 4,402 brave men and women who helped to liberate Italy in 1944 and are now buried there. It is one of 14 permanent American World War II military cemetery memorials erected on foreign soil by the American Battle Monuments Commission. These fields of honor are spread across Belgium, England, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, and Tunisia- tributes to America's enduring commitment to the freedom of other countries and the defense of our own.
We cannot know the future course of Iraq, but it has now an opportunity it would never have had if Saddam and then his sons had remained in power. It is an opportunity won for them by many sacrifices, the most recent in an honored line of sacrifices. We should pray, and ought to "highly resolve, that these dead shall not have died in vain."