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 so 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 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.
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was offered upon the occasion of the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. on November 19, 1863, memorializing the battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War for the Union, which had been fought only four and a half months previously on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. In his modestly brilliant but brief remarks, President Lincoln recounted the founding of our nation in 1776 and the binding principle that all men are created equal affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, our founding document drafted and put forth in July of that year.
This July, our 244th as a nation in these United States, is as good a time as any to remind ourselves once again of these battles, of the brave fellow Americans who fought in them, and why they fought and died to advance the founding principles of liberty and equality uniting us. Today, we still have “the great task remaining before us.” Just as Lincoln so inspiringly advocated in his day, we have yet another opportunity to “take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” and once again resolve “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.”
Our “unfinished work.”