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Few speeches are as iconic as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his 227-word dedication of the national cemetery at the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War on November 19, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Over 15,000 people turned out to attend the cemetery’s dedication, primarily to hear the greatest living orator of the day, Edwin Everett, a rare combination of scholar and Ivy League diplomat who could hold masses in thrall. But it is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that, contrary to his own mistaken belief that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,” remains etched in our collective national memory.

For each of us who has memorized the Gettysburg Address, for those who only read it, and for those who never bothered with it, let us hope that Lincoln’s words will continue to resonate in those who continue to serve “the people.”

Four score 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 dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field 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.