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A speech greatly noted and long remembered

What We Think

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 9:33 a.m. CDT
A figure of Abraham Lincoln stands in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, Friday in Springfield. A copy of the speech in Lincoln’s hand is on display.

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, …" President Abraham Lincoln said 150 years ago today as he delivered the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Pa.

Modestly put, Mr. Lincoln, but incorrect.

The would has greatly noted and long remembered your eloquent, meaningful words.

Brevity, the soul of wit, is also the soul of memorable speeches.

In 272 words, Lincoln distilled exactly what was at stake in the Civil War, for which thousands of Union soldiers, buried at Gettysburg, gave their lives.

The nation was "conceived in liberty," Lincoln said, though slavery paradoxically was tolerated in the South. If the North prevailed in a civil war that was precipitated by the secession of 11 slave states, then "a new birth of freedom" – the abolition of slavery – could take place.

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation started the task. Ratification of the 13th Amendment would finish it – a ratification that Lincoln, felled by an assassin, would not live to see.

The Lincoln who accomplished two Herculean chores – saving the Union and freeing the slaves – was the same Lincoln who traversed the Sauk Valley as a volunteer soldier during the Black Hawk War of 1832, and as a politician during the 1850s.

Can the Sauk Valley be proud that such a great man once stood in our ancestors' midst? Yes.

At Gettysburg, Lincoln urged "us, the living" to carry on the difficult work of the fallen soldiers.

Seven score and 10 years later, we, the living, are tasked to carry on Lincoln's quest to preserve democracy and freedom.

Let Lincoln's ideals, like his Gettysburg Address, be long embraced.

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