Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Last known photo of Lincoln
taken April 10, 1865
Today is the 202nd birthday of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 to April 15, 1865), 16th President of the United States of America.

In remembrance of this great man, here is the text of one of his speeches you may recognize...

Time: November 19, 1863
Place: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on the occasion of the dedication of a cemetery for the Union soldiers who died during the Battle of Gettysburg July 1 to July 3, 1863.

President Lincoln was invited to speak “as Chief Executive of the nation, formally [to] set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.” He took the podium after a two hour speech given by master orator, Edward Everett. His "few appropriate remarks" lasted only two minutes, but will live as one of the "most elegant and eloquent" speeches in American history.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation 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.

Just a reminder that as a nation, we have been through much worse than what is going on today and survived...

15 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

nice, Bev. There is a reason we celebrated Washington and Lincoln's birthdays (and not other presidents.) They both were indespensable giants in the history of our great country. If you ever get a chance to walk the field at Gettysburg, I urge you to do so. A wonderful experience.

BevfromNYC said...

Thanks Jed! I have been to Gettysburg when I was very young child and I remember it vividly. I have heard that there is a fight to develop it. That would be a national tragedy.

BTW, does anyone think that it's not a coincidence that Tax Day and the day Lincoln was assassinated are the same date?

LawHawkRFD said...

I was picked to give the Gettysburg Address at my elementary school graduation. It was the first time in my life that I realized that words could transcend mere rhetoric. If our current President could learn no other lesson from Lincoln, this would be the best. Love of nation, love of his fellow man, and genuine sorrow for the sacrifice that had to be made. And a firm resolution that government of the people, by the people and for the people would be preserved.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk: and if our current President could learn Lincoln's brevity, he could save us all a lot of time.

The first time I read and really understood these words was on trip to the Lincoln Memorial about 15 years ago. I was actually stunned that so few words could mean so much and that I had never really notice it before. Breathtaking.

Joel Farnham said...

Bev,

Thanks. I had to memorize the first sentence of this immortal speech for school.

I have heard that first sentence time and again, but rarely do I see let alone hear the rest of the speech.

We aren't supposed to forget. We do anyway. It is time to remember.

BevfromNYC said...

Okay, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is on TMC - and there is a scene at the Lincoln Memorial and a little boy is reading the Gettysburg Address. Cool.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You must be one of them conservative types if you think people can learn from history. Don't you realize that history is irrelevant and no one has ever gone through worse than we go through today?

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, Andrew, this is the worst of times. But that's why I wrote that speech for Lincoln. The stovepipe hat and beard were my idea too.

AndrewPrice said...

Well nice work on the speech then Bev! ;-)

I know it sounds like a joke, but people (liberals) really do declare that history can teach us nothing. The socialists hated history because they thought it gave people an alternative. They claimed that by abolishing history, they could "set man free." Yeah, right, right into a prison-camp country.

Lincoln was an incredible figure and there is much to learn from him and the biggest, as you point out, is that we need to keep a sense of perspective, that things have been much, much worse before and that we came through that just as we will come through this.

StanH said...

As a Southerner I was raised to believe that the Civil War was, “The War of Northern Aggression.” Lincoln, Sherman were persona non grata around my house. My grandparents had direct links to the war, through their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. My family on my mothers side sent 21 young men to the war 3 returned, needless to say it left a mark. But as I grew older and read for myself, things as elegant, or eloquent as the “Gettysburg Address, his House Divided speech, etc.” his love of the Founders, and the ideals that make America great, I grew to understand the greatness of the man. The thing that I find wild, is Illinois, produced two great men, Lincoln and Reagan, two out of three ain’t bad.

BevfromNYC said...

Hey Stan, if it makes you feel any better, one of my ancestors was Robert E. Lee...

Ed said...

Nice reminder, thanks Bev! Now compare that speech to anything Obama's given and tell me who is the great communicator and who is the second rate communicator.

T_Rav said...

Thanks for the reminder, Bev! I'd thought of it earlier today, but you bring home why his birthday needs to be remembered (and why his and Washington's birthdays shouldn't be rolled into the generic "Presidents' Day").

As far as Gettysburg goes, I was there with my family five or six years ago, while we taking a vacation out East. It was very amazing to see the battlefield--but I have to say, the area as a whole has become far too commercialized. There's too many museums, gift shops, tour centers, and such, and they're starting to encroach on some of the most important sites. Gettysburg is certainly the best-known battle of the Civil War, so I can understand this up to a point--but still, the National Park Service or whoever it is needs to do more to keep this stuff at arm's length. This concludes my brief rant.

BevfromNYC said...

BTW Stan - Illinois can't claim Obama OR Lincoln as a native sons. Lincoln was actually born in Kentucky and well, who knows where Obama was actually born (just kidding). But hey Reagan is not bad!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Great post Bev!

I really think it's a shame we no longer officially observe Lincoln and Washington's birthdays.
President Day...as if all Presidents deserve to be honored is a bunch of horse hooey.

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