Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Gettysburg Address!

"Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them."

"Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."

"I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has."

~ All BY~ Abraham Lincoln

The speech known as, The Gettysburg Address, was delivered by Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the national cemetery on the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Pa. It is one of the most famous and most quoted of modern speeches.

Lincoln was born into a family stricken by poverty. True to the American dream, he died as one of the greatest men in history. Abraham Lincoln presided over our country during its darkest times. Yet he managed to keep the United States a whole. Most history experts consider Abraham Lincoln the greatest president of the United States.

Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg was only ten sentences and just barely lasted two minutes. Many teachers require their students to memorize the speech as part of their History classes. I was required by several different teachers to memorize it. Sounds easy doesn't it since I said it was only ten sentences. Do not be fooled it is not easy to say word for word. Today I wouldn't even try. I think I might be able to say the first line or part of it at least.

One of the most overlooked facets of Abraham Lincoln was his way with words. Lincoln was a sincere speaker. He had a true gift of writing. The most famous example of Lincoln's writing skills is in his Gettysburg Address. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is one of the most quoted speeches in American history. The Gettysburg Address was given during the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was delivered in the midst of the Civil War, just a few months after the Confederate soldiers had been defeated at the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. The date was November 19, 1863. Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg was very short. Yet, in that small amount of time Lincoln managed to convey the United States principles of unity and equality. The speech contained lyrical phrases and haunting images from the recent war. In this short sequence of words, Lincoln started with "a new nation, conceived in Liberty" and ended with "shall not perish from the earth". Almost as if those two phrases were part of one singular thought. The Gettysburg Address is now regarded as one of the best speeches in United States history. Everyone may not have the Gettysburg Address memorized, but I think we all recognize the words "Four score and seven years ago".

Gettysburg Address
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.

I cannot help but imagine the shivers that must have crept down the spines of those who were gathered on the spot, that had so recently been a bloody battlefield, as they listened to Lincoln's speech. I have long thought his speech to be a challenge to all of the men and women present to move forward as a Nation united.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory in the summer of 1863 that ended General Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy", it was the wars bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties. It also provided President Abraham Lincoln with the setting for his most famous address.

Established by concerned citizens in 1864, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association set out to preserve portions of the battlefield as a memorial to the Union troops that fought the battle. In 1895, the lands were transferred to the Federal government and Gettysburg National Military Park was established. Administered by a commission of Civil War veterans, the park's primary purpose was to be a memorial to the two armies that fought this pivotal battle, and to mark and preserve the battle lines of each army. Administration of the park was transferred to the Department of the Interior- National Park Service in 1933, which continues in its mission to protect, preserve and interpret the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address to park visitors.

I have never been to Gettysburg. I think I would like to visit this most historical place some day.
During my research today I found many wonderful letters and stories from and about soldiers who fought for both sides. I even found a few ghost stories about the battlefield and some of the towns oldest buildings.
Today let us be reminded of the importance of being a Nation United. Pray for our nation and those who lead us. Have a wonderful day!


Sunshine said...

Patsy, I have not been to Gettysburg either and probably could never say that speech from memory. This is very interesting to me. Maybe we should plan a trip to go there and to see the ponies!

Pblacksaw said...

Sunshine ~ maybe we should. I'll be trying to carry a pony home though.. I can't help but think I could get away with it.. Have a great day!