Thursday, November 19, 2009

We can not dedicate...we can not consecrate....

It's the anniversary of the Gettysburg address. If you go here: Gettysburg drafts, you can see drafts of the address.

I have nothing terribly insightful to add to the conversation about the Gettysburg address. I can tell you that I went to Gettysburg for the first time as an adult, with my sister who lives near there. Two Southern girls walking around in Gettysburg -if there are ghosts anywhere, there are ghosts there. I'm quite sure of it. It is a place of powerful sadness, and Lincoln tried -I think- to rhetorically ease the pain. I can't imagine that he succeeded, but the appeal to our better nature can't be a waste of time.

Lift a glass with me this evening and, perhaps, reflect on visionary leadership, your best self, and Lincoln's damn fine writing.

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:

Lisa :-] said...

Can you imagine some of our modern politicians writing something like this on the back of an envelope?