150 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln spoke these words at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA. The speech, his most famous, took President Lincoln less than three minutes to deliver, but the message was a powerful one. Rather than merely recounting the details of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln gave meaning to the events by expressing the ideals of our founding fathers and the sacred principles that gave birth to our great nation, principles which the Union stood to preserve during the Civil War. That message is as pertinent today as it was in 1863.
Thank you, Mr. Lincoln, for the gentle reminder.
The Gettysburg Address
by Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 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. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
INTERESTING NOTE: President Barack Obama will not attend the anniversary gathering in Gettysburg, PA. “Lincoln historian Harold Holzer says the only explanation for why acclaimed orators like Obama and Bill Clinton would skip the anniversaries is the high bar Lincoln set.” (Gettysburg Address, 150 Years Later, Is a Sacred, but Elusive Text – November 17, 2013/Associated Press)