Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Inspiring Words Remembered

     When I was in high school we had an English prof, Father Bryant Halloran, O.S.B. who had us memorize a few key phrases from the great bard, Shakespeare.  I still can recite those lines.  Memorizing important words or thoughts is a good thing.

     Another thing that I memorized and can still recite is the Gettysburg Address, given at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg on this date in 1863 - 151 years ago, by President Abraham Lincoln.  Many kids studied this short but awesomely powerful speech as they grew up.  I was reminded of the Gettysburg Address a few minutes ago as I was channel surfing on TV, and ran across the Founders Day Celebration coverage from this small Pennsylvania town.  As I tuned in, a Daughter of Charity of Mother Seton from Emmittsburg was giving the opening prayer.  Sisters from Emmittsburg nursed the sick and cared for the dying from the very first moments following the three day battle, and Sister read from the diary of one of those Sisters in her prayer.

     The memorable words of the Gettysburg Address of President Abraham Lincoln are these:

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 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.

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