November 19 – testing the Nation

testing the Nation
so conceived, dedicated
how long can endure?

These United States of America, as a county founded on the principle that we are all created equal has been a work in progress since July 4, 1776.

Tests come both from within and without.

Somehow this Country survives it all and moves on.

Mr. Lincoln called out the country 166 years today at Gettysburg when he said, “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.

The closing words have been repeated so often and parodied so much that they have lost their simple meaning.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Mr. Lincoln’s remarks were to commemorate the dedication of cemetery.

The text itself is a warning more than anything else.

To quote another passage from Mr. Lincoln, “We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility” (Annual Message to Congress — December 1, 1862)

Monument to the 16th Michigan – My Great Great Grand Father’s unit – though he had been out of the army for almost a year by the time of Gettysburg
Lincoln at Gettysburg – (hatless) just to the left of the guy who looks like Lincoln but has a mustache

Gettysburg Address – November 19, 1863, Gettysburg, PA

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.

—Abraham Lincoln

Despite the historical significance of Lincoln’s speech, modern scholars disagree as to its exact wording, and contemporary transcriptions published in newspaper accounts of the event and even handwritten copies by Lincoln himself differ in their wording, punctuation, and structure. Of these versions, the Bliss version, written well after the speech as a favor for a friend, is viewed by many as the standard text. Its text differs, however, from the written versions prepared by Lincoln before and after his speech. It is the only version to which Lincoln affixed his signature, and the last he is known to have written. (Wikipedia)

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