Abraham Lincoln made today’s date a touchstone when, on a bleak Pennsylvania afternoon, he dedicated his epic speech to those who “consecrated” the battlefield by giving the ultimate sacrifice to the country, then a mere 87 years old. The Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863, galvanized the focal point of America’s founding documents to the ideal that in the Republican form of government, all are created equal. No words before or since those beginning “Four score and seven years ago…” have captured the essence of what makes America great and the model for a truly humane self-administered community–with that lofty ideal of equality always the goal.
This is the famous Bachrach photo from that day. Ironically, Lincoln is without the trademark stovepipe hat in this, the only confirmed photograph of him (the President is facing us and directly below the dude in the hat near the leafless branch in the top row) at the Gettysburg service.
In analyzing what made Lincoln such an effective speechwriter, I think it’s apparent that he was a master of political science and equally apparent that the fuel for same was his dedication to listening to as wide a swath of citizens as possible. He was famous for opening his office to everyone patient enough to wait in line and speak with him. But being unafraid to act upon his wealth of primary information made him a genius.
Those 272 words, the same as in today’s post, are forever inspirational: “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.”
Thank-you, Mr. Lincoln.