The world will little note, nor long remember…

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On the afternoon of November 19, 1863, Edward Everett, one of the great American orators of the Civil War era, spoke in Gettysburg to dedicate a national cemetery for soldiers who died during the Confederate’s attempt to defeat and destroy the Union Army.

Afterwards, President Abraham Lincoln rose, pulled out a couple of small sheets of paper and spoke to the crowd of 15,000 for two minutes.

Everett spoke for over two hours and nothing in those remarks stands out except the length of his speech, but this is what Abe Lincoln said on that day, 150 years ago:

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 battlefield 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 cannot dedicate–we cannot consecrate–we cannot 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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