Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two minutes - The Gettysburg Address

Two minutes.

That's the length of Abraham Lincoln's 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 gave their lives that a 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.

On the day of the dedication of a national cemetery at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863, Edward Everett spoke just before Abraham Lincoln.  Everett was a well known orator, and his speech lasted upwards of two hours. 

Lincoln stood up after Everett finished, and spoke the 273 word remark he had prepared, and then sat down.   The people were barely settling in for a dissertation, and it was over.  Despite Lincoln's modest "the world will little note nor long remember," the Gettysburg Address has become one of the most memorized and quoted oratory pieces of American History. 

Clearly, Lincoln's investment was far more than two minutes. His remarks were carefully drafted and edited.  (Proof to any student the value of revision!)  But in less time than it takes to microwave a modern TV dinner,  Abraham Lincoln stated the essence of the American spirit - both the four score and seven years that had passed, and the seven score and ten that have since transpired.  Even Everett admitted, “I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”

Two minutes.  We aren't all Abraham Lincoln, and praise God this country has not had reason for another Gettysburg Address.  But how will you leave a lasting mark on the world, so that those who fought in any American war will not have died in vain?  What will be your two minutes at Gettysburg?

©2012- 2013 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover