President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – 150 years ago, today

19 Nov

In the words of President Lincoln:
“It’s altogether fitting that we do this.”


(click for official Gettysburg website)

Today at the site of the Gettysburg battlefield some of America will reflect on Civil War sacrifices that were of utmost importance to American history.

President Lincoln travelled to the site, six months after the horrific fighting to speak of the honor of BOTH the soldiers lost to North and South armies. His brief but watershed speech named the Gettysburg Address is one of the most important in USA history. Today’s events will be broadcast live to over 70,000 colleges and universities, K-12 schools, public libraries, and museums. Hopefully, it will be “covered” by our media, or even mentioned in passing by NYC school teachers.

America was still a young nation, and a experiment apart from monarchy. Many were living enslaved for generations, and 1863 was merely 5-6 years apart from the Dred Scott decision that ensured by law that those enslaved were not U.S. citizens – but property. No matter how we learn from the Civil War, and understand its onset and reasons and States’ Rights et. al. — what cannot be extracted from its role in American history is President Lincoln. He’s born from the Abolitionists, and from a then young Republican Party that was set on ending Slavery. It was Brooklyn’s Henry Ward Beecher and Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights that brings Lincoln to New York (he was set to speak at Plymouth Church, when weather necessitated the change of venue to Cooper Union). As we express in local meetings of BRC, there’s a reason why Beecher’s statue stands facing Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Although our President Obama had famously used Springfield, Illinois for candidacy-launching public events, and the “Lincoln bible” for two inauguration ceremonies (2009, 2012) — this White House has for the most part overlooked the significance of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln presidency, Lincoln’s 200th birthday and 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. (All might have been unifying, teaching moments after extremely divisive tactics of the Obama election year campaigns.) It’s no surprise it follows, that President Obama today would neglect to make an appointment to read the Address or participate at today’s ceremony.. even by Skype? Or, to restore and update Americans and millions of school-children nationwide how “those here gave their lives that that nation might live.”


The Gettysburg Address, as delivered Nov. 19, 1863:

“Four score 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 here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, 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 can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. 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 this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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The White House released a 272-word statement by President Obama after 8 pm on their website. (Presumably, although its been Valerie Jarret that’s done this late-day fixing before for major national moments overlooked by the WH team – like adding a press release on the WH website in the late-day/evening of the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination earless this year). Pres. Obama writes longhand here, guess to “prove” these are his thoughts? about how he reflects on Lincoln, late nights.. when Michelle and the kids are sleeping etc. etc. And the WH ‘tweeted’ that he may have gone to Gettysburg today.. but he was working on the ObamaCare website fix. (Sure he was.)