I suppose I'm jumping the gun by three days, but I've been struck the last few days by the significance of this.
On Thursday 19 November 1863, the President of a beleaguered United States of America -- or at least the northern portion -- spoke at the dedication of the cemetery for the 1-3 July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Address
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.Ten sentences. Minor remarks compared to the main dedication speech by the Honorable Edward Everett
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 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.
from the Canonical Bliss version
That we may have a photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg is getting some scholarly debate.
Ken Burns, of the legendary Civil War documentary series, has apparently shot a video of the reading of The Gettysburg Address for the 150th anniversary, read by the five living Presidents (Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama), various news personalities and celebrities. Actually, the video I've seen is a mashup cut of various people reading The Gettysburg Address for a new Ken Burns PBS documentary:
THE ADDRESS, a 90-minute feature length documentary by Ken Burns, will air on PBS in the spring of 2014. The film tells the story of a tiny school in Putney Vermont, the Greenwood School, where each year the students are encouraged to practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address. In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address.Rachel Maddow, who is one of the participants, was amused by the headline Taylor Swift and All 5 Living Presidents Recite Gettysburg Address -- ABC News (blog), naming it The Best New Thing In The World. One hesitates to suggest which reading of the personalities involved is the more significant...
We Regret The Error
Via Jay Lake, the Harrisburg Patriot & Union newspaper retracts their original editorial comment:
"We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of."saying:
In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, the Patriot & Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance. The Patriot-News regrets the error.
Better late than never, it is a class act on their part. In their defense, I will reiterate that Lincoln's brief remarks were not considered the oration of the day at the time.
Let our quibbles detract not from the significance of Gettysburg or the healing derived from one man's magnificent utterances on our history.