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Gettysburg: battle and the speech

Staff Report • Jul 3, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Today is the 150th anniversary of one of the most important battles ever fought on American soil. Gettysburg, Pa., was also the site of one of the most important speeches ever made by an American president.On Nov. 19 1863, Abraham Lincoln visited the battlefield, where more than 8,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died during a three-day engagement that turned the tide of the Civil War. He was among a number of dignitaries that gathered in Gettysburg to dedicate the battlefield as a national cemetery. It was here that Lincoln cemented his place as one of this nation’s greatest presidents.His speech, now known as the Gettysburg Address, was less than 275 words — about the length of a letter to the editor. Lincoln followed a renowned speaker, who had delivered a two-hour speech that was in keeping with the oratory style of the day.It took the president less than two minutes to give his address. His speech may have been brief, but Lincoln’s words were long on the ideas that have inspired generations of Americans. We thought it would be fitting today to reprint that speech as a proper way to begin our Independence Day celebrations.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 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.

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