Lincoln at Gettysburg
Nov. 19 will mark the 149th anniversary of Abraham’s Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863. As I have for the last 13 years, I'll be in the National Cemetery in that historic town to hear the address given again by a good friend and noted Lincoln performer, Jim Getty.
The main speaker this year will be Steven Spielberg, director of the new movie, “Lincoln,” which promises to present Lincoln on screen for the first time as he really was – man and politician.
As a lifelong student of Lincoln and occasional Lincoln performer, I’ve come to know and love Lincoln’s words. His 272-word Gettysburg Address represents the best of his ability to express himself well, while defining his principles and his vision for our country.
In a two-minute talk, Lincoln reset the American dream, as stated "four score and seven years" earlier in our Declaration of Independence in 1776, that “all men are created equal” and extended that dream to the world: “this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated,” and defined what democracy really is once and for all, a "government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
He also called on us to dedicate ourselves to the “great task remaining before us” to ensure democracy does not “perish from the earth.”
Over the years, the Gettysburg Address has become more of a mantra than simple words to live by – memorizing it and reciting it by rote somehow removes the recognition of its words and what they mean. And despite his words that “The world will little note or long remember what we say here…” Lincoln wrote it to be read, making sure it would be printed accurately by making sure a reporter transcribed it from his written copy. And printed it was, making its way around the world in newspapers and then books.
The movie "Lincoln” takes place in 1865 but I hope that Spielberg found a way to somehow include the best 272 words in our country’s history.