Seven score and seventeen years ago, the greatest President in American history delivered the great speech in American history as he dedicated the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Over two years had passed since the Civil War started and by the fall of 1863, no one knew what the outcome would be.
Many questioned why the war must continue, why so many should die.
Why, in November of 1863, a national cemetery must be dedicated to forever house those slain from a battle four months ago.
During the rise of the “care not” Democrat, who wanted to end war at any cost–a Union with slavery or peace without the South, Lincoln answered why the war must continue.
Why hundreds of soldiers gave their lives.
In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln stated that these brave men weren’t just saving a country but a particular type of country. Founded on the idea that all men are created equal.
The History Channel looks back on November 19, 1863 as the day “President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.”
At the dedication, the crowd listened for two hours to Everett before Lincoln spoke. Lincoln’s address lasted just two or three minutes. The speech reflected his redefined belief that the Civil War was not just a fight to save the Union, but a struggle for freedom and equality for all.
As he looked to the crowd that day, he said:
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.
That this nation shall have a new birth of freedom.
That our country would adhere to the foundation our founding fathers established for this country–that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
Take a moment today and read The Gettysburg Address aloud.
Now, more than ever, it is important that we remain an educated and virtuous citizenry.