Thursday, November 19, 2009

A "Few Appropriate Remarks"

On this day in 1863 people gathered at a location near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to dedicate a cemetery to hold the remains of soldiers who had died in this decisive battle. Abraham Lincoln was invited to make a "...few appropriate remarks..." following the oration which was to be delivered by Edward Everett.

The oration lasted some two hours and was, by contemporary accounts, every bit as impressive as Everett's reputation as a speaker would have predicted. Then Lincoln spoke for about two minutes, saying the following:
"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 here 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."
This version of the Gettysburg Address is known as the "Bliss copy" and of all the versions and drafts of this speech was the only one signed by Abraham Lincoln.

The world did not "long remember" Edward Everett's words, worthy though they were, but Lincoln's brief remarks are recognized to this day.

The photograph that accompanies this posting is from the Wikipedia article on Abraham Lincoln, and is in the public domain.


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Hannah said...

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