Today is the 140th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. I’ll admit that until I heard it today on the radio, the only part I knew was the famous beginning.
It’s short, and I reprint it below. It’s worth reading, I think, because it is so relevant today. We’re in the midst of another civil war, one that is being fought on dozens of fronts–political, commercial and social. At its essence is the idea of respect.
For Lincoln to stand in front of 15,000 people (no microphone) and be so humble and simple was an act of courage. To do it without demonizing the other side, without bending to special interest groups and without invoking whatever higher authority he could imagine to explain why he was right and everyone else was wrong–that’s what statesmen are for.
The next time your business, your boss or your politicians want to treat another individual as somehow LESS, I think it’s your job to call them on it. If all men are truly created equal, we ought to start treating them that way.
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 cannot
dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.