As millions of people across the Middle East & North Africa rise up
against kings, dictators, and autocrats in their struggle for democracy,
we’re reminded that the road to freedom can be a long & difficult one.
click to play
The Gettysburg Address
“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.
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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.”
On June 1, 1865, Senator Charles Sumner, in his eulogy for the slain president, said Lincoln was mistaken when he said “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Rather, Sumner said:
“The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it.
The battle itself was less important than the speech.”
If you need a reminder, John, just look outside your office window:
That beautiful red brick building across M Street is the Charles Sumner School,
named after the prominent abolitionist and U.S. Senator
who delivered that eulogy for President Lincoln.