Lincoln’s strong words resonate 150 years later

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Today is the 150th anniversary of the day President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. This short address, a mere 272 words, is regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history.

The address was given at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Penn., over four months after the Union Army defeated the Army of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. There were more than 46,000 casualties between the two armies, including almost 8,000 deaths, over 27,000 wounded and more than 11,000 missing or captured.

In just over two minutes, Lincoln captured the American spirit and this county’s dedication to freedom and equality established in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln’s words resonate today, despite the president’s belief the world would not take note of what was said on the afternoon of Nov. 19, 1863.

Lincoln wrote out his speech by hand. Five versions of the speech have been circulated over the past century and a half. Following is the fifth and final version written by Lincoln.

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 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.

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