The Speech Of, By and For the People
November 19, 1863: One of the most important days in American history.
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in the namesake city in Pennsylvania. Despite its admittedly brief nature (~2 1/2 minutes), his profound words defined a presidency and a nation.
The Gettysburg Address changed the trajectory of a country and its purpose from that moment forward.
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 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.
Director of the 2012 film Lincoln, Steven Spielberg immersed himself into the turbulent life of the 16th president. Spielberg stuck tight to facts in his sincere effort to accurately illuminate an ordinary man’s passion and conviction for shining a light across a nation during some of its darkest, most uncertain days.
As a student of history (perhaps a teacher, as well), Mr. Spielberg gave his own speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania while promoting his film on the anniversary when Mr. Lincoln gave his most consequential two cents.
We should all be Lincoln obsessives.