Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address...
Then and Now

In all the years of college, graduate school, and post-graduate school, I have had many history classes. Some of the classes dealt with ancient antiquity and other more recent times. For some reason, I attempt to place myself in the chronological timeline. For example, I was born in 1943, which was 80-years after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I wonder how many Americans were still alive who fought in the Civil War when I was born. I discovered that Albert Henry Woolson (born February 11, 1850 and died August 2, 1956) was the last soldier to die from either side of the Civil War. He died at the age of 106.

Albert Henry Woolson during the Civil War

...many years later

However, I am writing this essay about the Gettysburg Address, which Lincoln gave on November 19, 1863. My lifetime is nearly the same number of years between Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address and my birth. That is haunting, but it puts the Gettysburg Address into a historical context for me.

Lincoln at Gettysburg

This is considered the actual Gettysburg Address. However, there are four other versions with very slight modifications of the 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.

The Gettysburg Address

Lincoln attempted to bring together a divided and factored nation. The battle had occurred from July 1-3 resulting in 46,286 causalities. While Gettysburg was the costliest battle of the Civil War, it definitely was the obvious beginning of the end for General Lee and the Confederacy. Lee had invaded the North, but the Battle of Gettysburg was the Union’s response. Lee had wanted to allow the South to maintain the issue of slavery. He had slaves. He made money along with many other slave owners by having human beings held in bondage.

Today, 154 years after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Donald the Dumb doesn’t want to take down statues of Robert E. Lee, because he was a great American. I wonder whether Chancellor Angela Merkel would have wished to keep a statue of Hitler.

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