I am writing this blog post from a house that was 23 years old when Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. That imbues me with a sense of perspective in the history of that speech. Like the walls of this building those words have endured the assaults of time and have embedded to become stronger. They have transcended the fickle winds of fashion to become rooted in the fabric of society.
On this day in 1863 Lincoln delivered his speech. In an age when speeches ran to many hours these words seemed curt to the attendees, who never even settled in to the subject before it was done and dusted. The photographer at the event failed to take a picture of the president delivering his speech. The speech was over before he was ready with the camera. He managed to capture a blurred image of the President descending from the podium after concluding his delivery.
The Gettysburg Address is probably the best known speech in the modern world. Generations of American children have memorized it for school recitals. It is held up as a model for brilliant speech. Short, to the point, not a wasted word, powerful and compelling in its call to the people to build a better future.
In one regard it is wrong. Lincoln said “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here..”