Friday, March 16, 2007

A Great Moment in Time

It's funny how things run together. At the same time that I am working on research on John Henry, my son is memorizing the Gettysburg address, I am reading Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain, and yesterday there's a CNN cover story on Civil War sites. Life's funny that way. So bear with me as I go nostalgic for the next few entries.

To get things rolling, let's start with a classic. One of the greatest speeches ever delivered. Not just because it was short, but because of what it says in such a short time. In the movie "National Treasure" Nicolas Cage's character says, in referring to the beginning of the Declaration of Independence: "Nobody speaks like that anymore". The same applies to the Gettysburg Address.

So please, Mr Lincoln, take us back to when Presidential speeches were Presidential and meaningful.

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.

Thank You, Mr President.

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