On November 19, 1863 President Lincoln gave a speech at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg. He wasn’t feeling well at the time and later it would turn out that he was coming down with smallpox.
He was not the featured speaker at the event; it was Edward Everett who gave the oration. President Lincoln had been asked to follow with “a few appropriate remarks”.
President Lincoln had no plan to make history on November 19, 1863. He was there to honor the fallen, to dedicate a cemetery to the war dead of a country torn at the seams – a nation so divided that its very survival was at stake. His task was simple and his words were simple.
What came to be known forever at the Gettysburg Address was only ten sentences; ten sentences that summarized not only the war but the founding and purpose of our nation. Ten sentences permanently etched into our nation’s soul.
As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, we find our country divided on many issues. But we know now, that even at our most divided, our nation will endure.