Friday, November 19, 2010

Pop History Moment: Abraham Lincoln Delivered The Gettysburg Address

US President Abraham Lincoln's stirring words (delivered on this day in 1863) serve to remind us of the high-minded ideals upon which the nation he led was founded, ideals which he - along with thousands of his countrymen - fought and died for; yet the Gettysburg Address also echoes with a kind of hollowness, given how much work remains undone... Delivered upon the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, they are brief but moving:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFour 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 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 this 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 this earth.

*On this day in 2007, when I first posted this piece, I'd intended its original title -
Seven Score And Four Years Ago - to be a humourous spin on the opening line of the Gettysburg Address, 'Four score and seven years ago...' Then I counted. Sure enough, this day in 2007 was seven score and four years to the day that President Abraham Lincoln first made his most famous oration. Spooky...

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Seumas Gagne said...

Gods know that I'm torn inside about my American identity. I believe passionately in the American ideals I learned as a child. I also die inside when I see them discarded for profit or power by people proclaiming themselves the only true patriots.

If they were making a movie of my life, however, one of the big scenes would be the first time I walked up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and read the Gettysburg address carved in foot-tall letters on a hot August night. I said to myself "There's no one left like Lincoln - he couldn't happen today."

OK I'm going to stop now before this turns into another blog post.

michael sean morris said...

Don't let me stop you.

Seumas Gagne said...

And here we are now with the first African-American lining the dominoes up to become our next president in January. Maybe there's a little more hope than there was last year.

And maybe some Canadians will have to divert some of their bile to another target for a little while. I know.. no chance of that! Two incidents of anti-American vandalism for me in 2008 - and the year's not over yet.

michael sean morris said...

Well, you managed to throw off your tyrant; meanwhile, we're still stuck with ours. Even if his wings are clipped by a minority government, one can see the Prime Minister fairly drooling over a majority so he can implement his neoconservative agenda on behalf of the Alliance Church.

Have you tried an Obama sticker in your rear window? You don't even have to permanently adhere it...