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After the solemn prayer and two hours of Edward Everett's classic oratory composed for the occasion, Lincoln slowly rose, drew from his pocket two sheets of paper, and delivered the Gettysburg Address. He spoke for about two minutes. His ten sentences sounded native, direct, and clear after Everett's long, formal oratory.
"Lamon, this is a fat failure and the people are disappointed," Lincoln said gloomily to a friend after the ceremony, referring to his speech.
In happier mood the following day, he wrote in reply to Edward Everett's note of congratulation, "I am pleased to know that in your judgment the little I did say was not altogether a failure." Everett had written with fine sincerity and perception, "I should be glad if I could fatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."
The central idea — that was it. The thing that Lincoln could see and hold to through the red mists of war and the confusions of a dark and tragic time.
So much for the event — its time, sane, and actors.
Eighty years and more have passed sina Lincoln spoke so briefly under a gray November sky in 1863, standing beside the newly buried dead on that field of bitter victory. His words have become a lasting testament of sorrow and dedication for all battlefields.
For us today Gettysburg is not only the consecrated Pennsylvania acres. It is the sacred soil of torn Pacific islands where the white crosses stand in rows; the hills of North Africa; the beach-heads of Italy and France; the blasted mountain ridges taken and retaken; the skeleton cities won house by house; the battlefields of the deep sky and the strewn sea bottom. Gettysburg means all these, and more.
Again we have stood at the close of a great war, the most terrible in history, with the unfinished task before us. At a time when events, directions, and purposes seem confused and the path ahead clouded and obscure, Lincoln's words are clear, strong, comforting, eloquent of the central idea. The stupendous rush of history has not ignored, but expanded and enriched their deepest meanings.
Because we are the sons of many peoples, races, and nations fused into spiritual oneness by the frightful bloodletting of two world wars, America has been called to and anointed for spiritual leadership of the world in the great task ahead.
Our government in its framework is an inseparable union of forty-eight free and independent though not sovereign states, bound together in mutual consent; and a union one and indivisible. Because this is so, America today stands and shows forth not merely as a possible theory or blueprint; but a tested working example for world federation, pointing the way to permanent world peace that is not a mere truce between wars. It is significant that the three departments of the United Nations Charter correspond functionally to the three fundamental branches — legislative, executive, and judicial — of our great Constitution.
We pause and look back on the long road to freedom, or at the stretch we have come from Plymouth Rock to Pearl Harbor. In spite of the failures and the betrayals, the long delays and setbacks, we the people have not failed. Our voice has spoken out clear and strong the testament of liberty. We know the names — Roger Williams, Washington, Franklin, Paine, Jejferson, Whitman, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Willkie. These are only a few in the long roll call that have "sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat."
Coming out of the native rank and file of America, Lincoln emerges as the archetype of democracy holding fast in darkest hour to the central idea — the Union — for if the Union fail, then democracy has failed.
After the blasts of wars, above the troubled clamor of uncertain peace, we are listening again to the voice of Gettysburg across the years. We hear the surging answer of the spirit of the people young and sure and strong: "We, the People of the United States, the American People, a new nation and race welded out of many peoples, faiths, hopes, tongues — we will keep our rendezvous with destiny. We will be there. We shall not fail."
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Excerpted from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address by James Daugherty. Copyright © 2013 Albert Whitman and Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted April 30, 2013
LINCOLN'S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS by Gabor S. Boritt, Illustrated by: James Daugherty is a powerful children's book/history. Age range: 6 and up. *Note*Common Core State Standards:Informational Text: History. I loved this book. Very educational with beautiful illustrations. We can all use remainders of this important speech. A beautiful pictorial interpretation of the Gettysburg Address given by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863. I would highly recommend this title not only for children but for educators,and everyone. A must read! Received for an honest review from the publisher.
HEAT RATING: NONE(CHILDREN'S)
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction Reviews