Lincoln’s speech still resonates

The Gettysburg Address is easily Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech and one of the most quoted political speeches in U.S. history. Lincoln delivered the address 150 years ago today at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863, during the American Civil War, four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg.

There are various accounts of the address with slight differences. Here is the version of the text inscribed on the walls at 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 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 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.”