On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his carefully concise yet striking speech for the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Following the horrific loss of life at the Battle of Gettysburg in early July 1863, the overwhelming job of burying soldiers began to take place. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin immediately expressed interest in locating and burying men from his state, and was the principal force behind the establishment of the cemetery – including an invitation extended to President Lincoln to speak at the solemn dedication of the cemetery on November 19.
The significance of Lincoln’s address that day is underscored by its enduring presence in American culture. Virtually everyone in the United States knows the derivation of the first six words from the speech, “Four score and seven years ago…”
Annually on this day, now known as Dedication Day, a ceremony marks the dedication of the cemetery and Lincoln’s Address. Earlier this morning, the 149th anniversary was highlighted by keynote speaker Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winning director of the recently-released major motion picture “Lincoln.” No portion of the movie was shown at today’s ceremony.
Dedication Day is sponsored by the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg College, and the Gettysburg Foundation.
Previous Dedication Day keynote speakers include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Sandra Day O’Connor, General Colin Powell, and other significant dignitaries. With this rich history in mind, there is a great deal of anticipation over the 150th anniversary, one year from today.
In solemn commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and in partnership with Gettysburg 150, Music Celebrations is incorporating the entire 150th anniversary within our annual performance series in our Nation’s Capital – the National Festival of the States – as well as the Gettysburg 150 Music Festival at Majestic Theater on April 6, 2013.
Music ensembles that participate have the unique opportunity to:
1) learn more about this difficult part of our history.
2) perform at important and historic concert venues.
3) raise the ensemble’s profile in its community.
Here is the full text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as secured by Colonel Alexander Bliss – now known as the “Bliss Copy.” This text is one of only five versions of the address, is the only one with Lincoln’s name affixed to it, and is the version on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
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.