Sunday, November 17, 2013
A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM!
Weekly Opinion Editorial
A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM!
by Steve Fair
Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. This speech of only 273 words and delivered in less than three minutes stirred a nation. Its eloquence and language has an almost gem-like perfection. Lincoln, who was a student of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, delivered what many consider to be the greatest political speech in history. Ironically, Lincoln was not the keynote speaker that day. An orator named Edward Everett gave a two hour speech before the President. Everett famously sent Lincoln a note later in which he said, "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes." Speakers, take note, brevity is a most appreciated trait.
The year was 1863 and Lincoln was asked to travel to Gettysburg to dedicate the Soldier’s National Cemetery. It was at the beginning of the civil war and Lincoln was there to commemorate the battle of Gettysburg because it was a huge battle and thousands of union solider lives were lost in that battle. The President traveled by train from Washington D.C. and remarked to his staff during the trip he didn’t feel well. Two days after delivering the speech, Lincoln was treated for smallpox. Another lesson for speakers- deliver the message and worry less about style.
Some believe that Lincoln used Pericles’ Funeral Oration as an outline for the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was a fan of Shakespeare and may have studied the Greek classics, but whether or not he used Pericles’ speech as an outline does not diminish the impact his speech had on America.
Another legend is the speech was written on the train to Gettysburg. Records show that Lincoln wrote an early draft of the speech while he was still in Washington and revised it the night he arrived in Gettysburg. He revised it yet again the next morning after he had toured a portion of the battlefield. Lincoln also added the words "under God" to the line "that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom" after touring the battlefield.
What is the message of the Gettysburg Address?
First, Lincoln made the speech about preserving self-government. Instead of bringing up divisive issues or narrowly defining his speech by the battle, he talked in very broad terms. Instead of delivering an angry attack against the Confederacy, Lincoln emphasized healing America and working toward the ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence by our founders. Lincoln points out the founding principles of the republic are under attack.
Second, the final two sentences of the speech/address have a call to action- a resolve to complete the unfinished work of a free people. Lincoln says,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-.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.” Lincoln reminded America that we are self-governed and that with God’s help, we would stay that way.Our nation’s sixteenth President loved God’s Word and declared the Bible "the best gift God has given man." As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address, may our nation experience a new birth of freedom from the hand of a sovereign God by turning to His principles and precepts, both individually and collectively.