Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. In 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech at a ceremony held in dedication to the soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettysburg. Ever the orator, in only 272 words Lincoln redefined the Civil War into a struggle for freedom and human equality. His words on that day formed a brief 2-minute speech that is celebrated as one of the greatest in modern history.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people
The words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address are prominently carved into the wall of the Lincoln Memorial. His words are not only revered in the United States, but even inspired the governing philosophies of world leaders in other countries. In the history of American presidents since this moving address, many US presidents have been hesitant to deliver a speech in Gettysburg, knowing nothing would compare to Lincoln’s immortalized speech.
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 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.
The anniversary of the Gettysburg Address has been commemorated in Gettysburg every year since 1938. It is now known as Dedication Day. Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg is also read throughout the United States on this date.
This year is no different. The 151st Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address will be commemorated in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, November 19th, 2014. The event is free and open to the general public. If you find yourself in Pennsylvania, head to the Lincoln Memorial and bring a lawn chair to witness the ceremony which begins at 10am.
The day’s events includes a wreath laying ceremony at the Soldiers’ National Monument, a Lincoln portrayer reciting the Gettysburg Address and a formal ceremony with important guest speakers. Past speakers include Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Colin Powell, Richard Dreyfuss, Ken Burns and Steven Spielberg.
This year 50 members of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier will be participating in the program.