Saturday, November 19, 2005

TDIH: Gettysburg

These next two weeks are great for This Day In History (TDIH) posts. Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. In 1863 President Lincoln gave his most famous address at the dedication of the national cemetery on the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

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 battle-field 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 can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not 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.
There are few speeches I hold as high in standard and reverence as I do the Gettysburg Address. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial, is the only speech that automatically comes to mind. I almost believe we have lost the rhetoric in modern American politics and culture that existed in 1863 and even in 1963. We've lost that aspect, but will forever have that example set before us by the "Great Emancipator."

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