CHARLESTON — Calling for a "countervailing voice against violence," former Congressman Glenn Poshard urged resistance to today's messages of discourse and disunity.
"It will never work and I don't care from what podium it's advocated," the Poshard said to a group at the Coles County Courthouse Tuesday.
The courthouse was one of a series of stops Poshard is making in counties he represented in the U.S. House of Representatives for a total of 10 years ending in 1999.
Also a former gubernatorial candidate and university president, Poshard led a group of about 20 people in four trips around the courthouse. Poshard wore a shirt with quotes from scripture while some who joined him carried signs with messages of type he was trying to convey.
He started by telling the group how he often met with other members of Congress for "many discussions about nonviolence."
That's not limited to acts of physical harm and destruction, he said, as messages through social media and other means are as much of a threat.
"Violence that's being spoken, that's the creator of division and disunity," Poshard said. "We're here to protest all kinds of violence."
Standing on the courthouse's northside steps after the march, effectively socially distanced from the mask-wearing crowd, Poshard leaned heavily on the words of Abraham Lincoln to send his message.
Before turning to the famous Gettysburg Address, Poshard first mentioned an 1838 speech in which Lincoln said the nation would "live forever or die by suicide," rather than succumb to a foreign threat.
Calling the Civil War "a prophecy that came true," he said Lincoln's Gettysburg Address "really spelled out" the "inheritance" and gifts of the Declaration of Independence.
Reciting the address from memory, Poshard emphasized its reference to the Declaration's "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" along with Lincoln's comment on the war testing if the nation "can long endure."
"Our work is never finished as citizens of this democracy because there will always be challenges to this democracy," he later said.
He also referred to Lincoln's second inaugural address, which came near the end of the Civil War at a time when many were "filled with vindication" toward the Confederate states.
Lincoln, however, embraced "malice toward none," which is "what we're about as a people," Poshard said, drawing applause from the audience.
Poshard's Coles County stop was his third of the day and his 13th since his series of messages started on Sept. 28. He also plans to visit 27 more courthouse between Wednesday and Oct. 22.
His mostly southern Illinois congressional district included Coles County after U.S. Census redistricting in 1990. After leaving the U.S. House, he lost the 1998 governor's election to George Ryan and later served as president of Southern Illinois University.