Today marks the 150th anniversary of the address that President Abraham Lincoln gave at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. Only a few days after the Battle of Gettysburg, plans were made to establish and dedicate the first military cemetery. Apparently, David Wills of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was tasked with finding a speaker. He chose Edward Everett, the former president of Harvard University, to give the main address. After Everett had agreed to speak, Wills asked the President of the United States to “give a few appropriate remarks.”
Everett spoke from memory for two hours and eight minutes about the history of the battle. As he spoke on and on, the crowd grew restless. Finally, he was quiet, and Lincoln stepped forward. His speech was short and to the point. He spoke for less than three minutes, and his talk consisted of 272 words. His speech was a handful of lines with carefully chosen words, and it quickly spread through the media.
President Lincoln spoke his words slowly and meaningfully. Please read the following address slowly in order to have the appropriate appreciation for his words. President Lincoln wrote and spoke his words for an important purpose, the survival of our nation. His words meant something to him. What do they mean to you and me?
“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 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 or 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.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell called Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg “the greatest speech in American history and reminded us that “Lincoln urged the fractured nation to dedicate itself to the `unfinished work’ of the battle. In only 10 sentences – 272 words in all – he made clear the far-reaching implications of the Civil War: `that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.’
The Morning Bell continued their article by reminding readers that the Progressive movement emerged in America in the late 19th century and likened the Progressives of that time to the liberals of our day in their “paradoxical relationship to democracy.”
“On the one hand, they championed democratic reforms, like the referendum, the ballot initiative, and the direct election of Senators (liberal today favor the popular election of the President).
“On the other hand, the Progressives -- again like their liberal heirs – harbored a deep-seated distrust of the unwashed masses.”
Liberals today try to convince Americans that everything they do is “for the people” because the people are not smart enough to choose their own food, light bulbs, or health care. “Liberalism has in effect redefined democracy along paternalistic lines: enacting, through whatever means necessary, what the people would vote for – if only they were enlightened enough to know what’s best for them.
“This, of course, is not democracy…. Simply claiming to be for the people does not make a government democratic. As Lincoln taught us in his Gettysburg Address, it must also be of and by these people.”
Our nation is now greatly divided over many issues; one of those issues is race. Barack Obama campaigned on being a person who could unite our nation; instead he has done more to divide us and make matters worse in almost every area of our nation. Even though Mr. Obama read a version of the Gettysburg Address today, he is a far different President than was Abraham Lincoln. If we want to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, we must look to leaders like Abraham Lincoln and not Barack Obama.