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The Gettysburg Address Offers Us Lessons For Today

(Photo by Terry Chambers/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

On November 19, 1863 during a ceremony to dedicate a cemetery for those killed at the Battle of Gettysburg President Abraham Lincoln spoke for less than two minutes. Little did he know at the time, he had just delivered one of the greatest speeches of all time, the Gettysburg Address.

In less than 300 words the president completely re-framed the country’s division that lingered from the Civil War linking the loss of so many to the quest for a ‘new birth of freedom,’ reminding us that ‘all men are created equal’ and finally united this ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’

Sounds like we could use a little of that kind of thinking today. On Tuesday, we will mark the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

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 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 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.

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