In a day and age where Lincoln was known to give speeches for hours, at Gettysburg he said only these few lines. The man before him, Edward Everett had already spoken for two hours and in what may have been meant to a slight against the President he was chosen to be the giver of Dedicatory Remarks over a tiny cemetery on this battlefield where the gore of war still lay upon the ruptured countryside.
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.
The crowds reaction was immediate. According to those there at Gettysburg, President Lincoln was interrupted five times by thundering applause. So it seems that these natural breaks in his speech that we know so well, may have been those moments where he had to stop and let the crowd wear it self out.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
This was a speech to dedicate not a new national cemetery, but rather a modest one at Gettysburg that would be the final resting place for men from both sides of the conflict, brothers in arms that had torn each other asunder and given their all for their causes.
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.
The fields of Gettysburg were still littered with the refuse of war, canteens and scraps of cloth, blue and butternut, caps and bags, rifles and bayonets all covered in the blood of those that left them there in a battle that cost America, in the space of three days, 51,000 causalities. It was not the bloodiest battle of that war but it was to be the turning point. The South would not proceed any further North from here on out.
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.
In truth the Gettysburg Address is not even an address at all.
It is a sacred oath of allegiance for generations of Americans to swear to, that our cause be a holy devotion to this nation and to the bold ideas that created it that so many of our brothers and sisters have given their all to protect.
It is this kind of oath that those that would destroy this country fear and avoid.
There still are in this country men and women who look upon this sacred ground swear that same sacred oath and are that dedicated to our nation, our freedoms, our beliefs, our rights and yes even our government, that they do pledge this sacred oath not only to those that died here but also to their brothers and sisters that have given their all since that day, that they would not have given their all in vain in the defense of this nation and that they to are ready and willing to give their all to protect it.
I for one am glad that this hallowed ground and this sacred oath were shunned by Obama on it’s 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.
Now more than ever we know who he is and what he stands for.
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