The 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address
Reflections on the sesquicentennial anniversary of Lincoln's famous speech
November 19, 2013
On this day 150 years ago–November 19, 1863 – Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous and important speeches in American history.
At the time, it was the highlight of the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers who gave their lives in one of the bloodiest battles in American history. But the Gettysburg Address went beyond simple commemoration. It marked a paradigm shift in the country's socio-political landscape.
The speech, at its core, urged both politicians and average citizens to consider the lives lost at Gettysburg and to honor the memory of those men who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment of their country; to honor them through unwavering commitment to democracy and equality for all men.
Simply put, Lincoln's words transformed public perception. He asked that the citizens of the United States take up the cause for which those service members gave their lives and usher in a new era that would emphasize human rights and transform the government.
So on this day–the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Gettysburg Address–we take time to reflect on Lincoln's words, remember the great men who gave their lives in the name of human rights and democracy, and thank the service members who continue to put their lives on the lines in order to protect the freedoms we Americans take for granted so often.
The following is a transcript of the speech, along with a modern audio recreation. Take a moment to reflect on Lincoln's words and tell us what they mean to you in the comment section below.
"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."