Now scrolling: 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. 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 battle-field 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.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Day Inseparable from Its Founder

In his letter to Mrs. Bixby, Lincoln wrote the most consoling words he could find to a mother who had lost her sons in the war. Today, when that letter is read at Memorial Day services, it stirs emotions in those who have suffered loss as if it were written personally for them.

Could Lincoln have seen down the ages at how many mothers would claim that letter as their own?

Not many people realize that Memorial Day started as a day to honor the Civil War dead.
After Lincoln dedicated the Gettysburg battlefield, separate traditions to honor the Union and Confederate dead eventually became what we now call Memorial Day.

Robert C. Wilburn, President of the Gettysburg Foundation, acknowledged that Lincoln really set the precedent for this special day when he gave his speech dedicating the grounds.

If you are interested in spending the day where Lincoln gave his most famous speech (and what better way to spend it?), a new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park offers a number of galleries and exhibits on the war and its aftermath at Gettysburg. Get me to Gettysburg.

During his term in office, Lincoln established several holidays, including Thanksgiving, but even after a century and a half, it is impossible to separate him from the day he never knew he founded – Memorial Day.

No comments: