Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Are Coming, Father Abr'am, Three Hundred Thousand More,

As many of you know, I am in love with words both written and spoken. In fact, that is part of the reason I blog, to give me a chance to be something of a word smith and to share my love of words and history with others.

On this day, in 1863 in a small crossroad town in Pennsylvania, a man who had been asked to say a few appropriate words at the dedication of a cemetery stood and spoke for two to three minutes. His speech only had 252 words in it. This was the time of great oratory, when speeches would last for hours so it was considered by some to be a poor effort, even a failure. But in those 252 words, so carefully crafted, this man, created a speech that would live forever. A previous speaker that day said ""I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

The man was Abraham Lincoln, The speech, The 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.


Chris Grimes said...

Even today, these words ring true. It's amazing how a single man, without a contingent of speechwriters, wrote such meaningful speech.

Mike W. said...

I agree. That's why I love history so much. The individuals that stand out and make so much of a difference.

Brigid said...

Words spoken from times past, sound as true and clear today as then.

Powerful stuff.

Mike W. said...

The`saddest thing is that by reading these words,(at least for me) I don't wonder what was his angle in saying what he did. Or what hidden agenda he had or even what was in it for him by making the speech.

I am almost sure that he spoke these words from the heart and felt a great debt of gratitude to the men who fought and died there.

How so unlike most of today's modern politicians. Again, a very sad state of affairs....