This field of glory is harvested, and the crop is already appropriated. But new reapers will arise, and they, too, will seek a field. It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others?[Josh:] Our field of vision is quite different today, certainly in retrospect. We know that in 1838 slavery was practiced throughout the South, women couldn't vote, much of what we now know as the architecture of democracy and freedom didn't exist. It's hardly like there was no work left to do. And yet there is a basic similarity. The challenge, the potential for accomplishment, for 'glory' to use that archaic and perhaps uncomfortable word that could be found in preservation and betterment simply couldn't compare to that of creation. There is a certain boringness and restraint inherent in being the preservers and betterers of a republic that has endured for almost a quarter of a millennium.
And yet here we have the opportunity to be its guardians and protectors at a unique moment, perhaps a moment of especial peril. Who would not embrace that challenge? We know the curse: may you live in interesting times. We are living in interesting times. Most of us would not have chosen it. But we have it. I think many of us look back at critical momentous moments in our history, the Civil War, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and other comparable passages in the country's history and think, what would I have done? Where would I have been? Well, now's your moment to find out. We are living in interesting times. We should embrace it rather than feel afraid or powerless. We have a fabric of 240 years of republican government behind us. We have the tools we need.
This isn't naiveté. It's not any willful looking away from anything that is before us. It's being ready. It is embracing the challenge of the moment rather than cowering. It's having some excitement and gratitude for living in a moment when a new and potent challenge to preserving who we are has fallen to us.