Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Not many monuments are dedicated to a speech, but President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address deservingly holds that unique honor.
On November 19, 1863, a crowd of 15,000 people gathered at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This new sacred ground was constructed to properly honor the Union Soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gettysburg. Those in attendance listened for two hours as the famed speaker Edward Everett delivered a two-hour oration on the significance of the vicious battle that cost so much to so many people. After his words, President Lincoln rose to the podium to offer “a few appropriate remarks.” In two minutes, Lincoln uttered some of the most important words in American history. Everett himself later wrote to Lincoln, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself, that I came to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”
President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has echoed through the passage of time. His words continue to live on in the hearts and minds of every American.
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.