Today is the anniversary of the day, November 19, 1863, that Abraham Lincoln delivered what has come to be known as the Gettysburg Address at the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
President Lincoln was not the main speaker at the event. Indeed, he was more of an afterthought. The other speakers were given more time, more notoriety. His words held none of the arrogant pontification of the other speakers but were humble and simple, spoken from the heart.
His remarks, only a few hundred words, took a scant two minutes. Those attending appeared to give little notice to them. Or to him. Yet, nearly a hundred and fifty years later, it is those remarks which live on.
As a schoolchild, I was required to memorize these words. As an adult, I have a greater appreciation for their meaning. As a writer, I am in awe of their beauty.
"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."
So, for today, I am grateful for Abraham Lincoln and his enduring words.