Gettysburg Address: "these dead shall not have died in vain"

*cross-posted from Assoluta Tranquillita*


 

In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver remarks, which later became known as the Gettysburg Address, at the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, on the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War. Though he was not the featured orator that day, Lincoln’s 273-word address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history. In it, he invoked the principles of human equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and connected the sacrifices of the Civil War with the desire for “a new birth of freedom,” as well as the all-important preservation of the Union created in 1776 and its ideal of self-government.


Of the five known copies of the “Gettysburg Address” in Abraham Lincoln’s handwriting (all a little different), this version named after Col. Alexander Bliss has been the most often produced in the 150 years since Lincoln signed and dated it, according to abrahamlincolnonline.org

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. 


— Abraham Lincoln

Nov. 19, 1863

There is an old cliche: Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.  Today, 150 years after Lincoln gave this speech, America needs to remind themselves of the truth of the contents of this speech.  
 


These are most certainly the times that test men’s souls, but I do have absolute faith that American patriots will continue to dedicate themselves to “a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
 


God bless America.