Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (JFK+50) President Abraham Lincoln gave his address at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery here in Gettysburg 151 years ago today.
The President followed the illustrious national orator Edward Everett who spoke for two hours. Mr. Lincoln, however, spoke for only three minutes.
Despite the disparity of the length of the two addresses, it is the President's words which we both remember and honor today.
Tribute to the Battle of Fort Sanders
Eyewitness Sarah Cooke, who was standing near the podium, said there was no applause immediately after Mr. Lincoln finished speaking.
Photographers, expecting to have ample time to set up their cameras, were unable to get a picture of the President in the process of giving his address.
The following day, Edward Everett sent a letter to Lincoln which included these words:
"I should be glad if I came near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."
Tribute to the Battle of Fort Sanders
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is regarded as the greatest presidential speech in our nation's history.
"Four score and 7 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 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 & 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."
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy paid tribute to the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in a statement issued by the White House 51 years ago today, November 19, 1963.
The statement included these words...
"From the past man obtains the insights, wisdom and hope to face with confidence the uncertainties of the future. On this solemn occasion let us rededicate ourselves to the perpetuation of those ideals of which Lincoln spoke so luminously. As Americans, we can do no less."
The President was looking ahead to a political trip to Texas later in the week. Thurston Clarke writes that Press Secretary Pierre Salinger dropped by the Oval Office to "say goodbye before leaving for Honolulu."
The President, "looked up from a stack of papers, removed his (reading) glasses, and said with an air of fatigue, 'I wish I weren't going to Texas.'"
Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy had visited Gettysburg National Battlefield on March 31, 1963. The First Couple were given a tour by National Park Service Historian Colonel Jacob Shields.
At the tour's end, the Colonel invited JFK back for the 100th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1963. The President had to decline the invitation because of a scheduled political trip to Texas that week.
"JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President," by Thurston Clarke, The Penguin Press, New York, 2013.