This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

What the Gettysburg Address means

The Gettysburg Address was a short speech by the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, during the civil war. Like so many things that "we learned in school", most of us have no idea what it means. Part of the problem is that we were "forced to learn it", which usually means some temporary memorizing for a test, and the flowery 19th-century language, although at the time it was considered "plain speaking". In this speech, you will find the most eloquent explanation of the concept of The United States of America, and the greatest hope ever spoken for its future. This words have always applied to this country, and still do to this day.

Fourscore 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.

When this speech was written, the United States was 87 years old, still a young country, and its idea of freedom and liberty was new. Before the United States, countries were ruled by the divine right of kings. Equality for all did not exist, not even as a concept.

Now we are now engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Then, as now, the world waited for this experiment with equality to fail. Differences of opinion on such a fundamental issue as equality for all men, as exemplified by slavery, was putting this country to the ultimate test.

We are met on a great battlefield of this war. We have come here to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether and fitting that we 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.

He is dedicating a cemetery, and reminding people that these soldiers died for a reason. And that reason had to do with what this country was all about. And he took this opportunity to remind the audience, many of whom, like today, may have lost track. This was nothing short of the preservation of the idea of equality and freedom for the world.

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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