Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do you remember these words after 150 years?

     At a ceremony to dedicate a Soldiers National Cemetery in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg on this date, November 19th, in 1863, the President of the United States gave a few brief remarks.  This ceremony was held about four months following the epic Battle of Gettysburg which was fought in and around this small Central Pennsylvania town on July 1, 2 & 3.  The battle which pitted two great armies representing the North and the South - the Union and the Confederates, ended with nearly 51,000 men dead, wounded or missing.  15,000 spectators attended the ceremony.  The president's remarks are the stuff of legend and of history.  The words were taught to me as a young student, and are remembered to this day (with a little held from the Internet).  Do you remember hearing or learning these words?

Fourscore 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 battlefield 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 cannot dedicate ---
we cannot consecrate --- we cannot 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.

President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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