Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seven score & eight years ago...

“…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.”

In less than three minutes, President Abraham Lincoln changed our nation’s historical rhetoric forever.  On a mild afternoon in November, after hearing the eloquent Edward Everett orate for the better part of two hours, the president  strode to the front of the speakers’ platform to deliver a “few appropriate remarks.” 

Two hundred seventy-one words later*, America had had its past, present and future spelled out in blinding simplicity.  We were a fledgling nation, a social experiment that had been “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  We were a nation at war, testing whether the experiment could be successful in the long-term.  We were a nation that would require the dedication of its people to thrive. 

It’s been 148 years since President Lincoln spoke those immortal words in a muddy cemetery to the south of town.  We are a nation that continues to face challenges that threaten to tear at the national fabric.  We still have a “great task remaining before us.”  We the people must remain resolved and dedicated to the protection of our freedom and democracy.  

Join us at the Soldiers National Cemetery Rostrum at 9:30 am on November 19th to remember, through President Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”, those who have perished to protect our nation.

Other events that day include a parade that begins at 1:30 pm, and the 9th annual Remembrance Illumination from 5:30-9:30 pm.  Please visit www.gettysburg.travel for full event listings.

Remembrance Illumination; photo courtesy of www.palincoln.org

*Lincoln authored five copies of his address - each was a little different.  I've referred to the text carved in the wall at the Lincoln Memorial, which has 271 words.

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