Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gettysburg Address as a Veterans Day tribute

Abraham Lincoln wrote and delivered this famous speech over half a century before the United States had an official Veterans Day holiday (or Armistice Day, as it originated) but this message is very suitable to re-read  and ponder today, especially the closing paragraphs. The sentiments Lincoln expressed for the brave soldiers who perished at Gettysburg are certainly applicable to how Americans should feel for all of our veterans, whether they perished in war or survived it, including those living today.

Reading this while thinking about Veterans' Day may give you a new perspective on the speech, other than the readings on "normal" days and the usual acolades and interpretations this address receives. The connection of it with Veterans Day (and  Memorial Day, for that matter) is one that just came to mind today, and it seems like a perfect match to me. What brilliant words by President Lincoln and what remarkable feelings they express. This is certainly an appropriate day to take this speech to heart.

(I took this version from http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm)


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.

1 comment:

  1. I memorized the Gettysburg Address when I was a kid growing up in the public schools of Tennessee and assumed the things it said were true. That's when I was a child.

    Looking back, from the perspective of having studied American history for more than sixty years, I realize how false Lincoln's speech really was. Dishonest Abe Lincoln was a master of political spin, whose words were the polar opposite of his deeds. Government of the people, by the people and for the people was exactly the thing he was trying to crush in his unconstitutional and brutal attack on the Confederate nation.

    Lincoln's words are a mockery when one considers that he held 13,000 northern political prisoners, without trial or due process of law - just because they disagreed with his illegal war.

    Famous American writer H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), said of the Gettysburg Address: “The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination - that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”

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