Monday, November 19, 2012

Remembrance Day

     On this date (November 19th) 149 years ago there was a gathering of dignitaries and ordinary people in the town of Gettysburg to dedicate a National Cemetery to the Union soldiers who had lost their lives in the early July battle that would become famous in the Civil War of the United States.  The ceremonies were impressive, the keynote speaker spoke long and eloquently, but one small speech made in brief remarks by the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, are what is remembered.  I remember learning those words while in school, and they are worth repeating here today, on this anniversary of their first being spoken.

Four score and seven years ago
our fathers brought forth,
upon 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 here on a great battlefield
of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of it
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 have, thus far,
so nobly carried on.
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 shall have
a new birth of freedom;
and that this government
of the people, by the people,
for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, November 19, 1863
     Lest we forget - a terrible struggle, unbelievable sacrifice, and great words of dedication - we have Remembrance Day.

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