150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln got in a train in Washington DC to travel 65 miles to Gettysburg. It took 6 1/2 hours to get there by train, to commemorate the opening of the cemetery for the dead North and South soldiers in the most horrific battle ever to take place in North America. At Gettysburg, where four months or so earlier, on the July 4 weekend, the North and South clashed in a battle that left 52,000 casualties and over 8600 wounded.
The event was celebrated with recreations of the battles from both North and South, of the speechmaking and so forth. Something like 15,000+ people gathered at Gettysburg and on a makeshift stage they crowded around Edward Everett, the premier orator in the country, former Secretary of State and President of Harvard University. He spoke for two-hours and some minutes in which he meticulously re-created verbally, the entire battle, who was in it, the heroes, named all the people responsible for setting up the commemoration.
Lincoln and the governor of Pennsylvanian were also scheduled to speak as kind of an afterthought. The President spoke for a little over 2 min. and in the middle of his speech, he said that these words would not be remembered and of course, they have been. Not Mr. Everett’s words but the 272 words of President Lincoln in what has gone down as one of the greatest speeches ever made. On the back of a Lay’s potato chips bag are 401 words, the IRS 1040 EZ form has 418 words.
272 words written down and spoken on November 19, 1863 that changed our country forever. So Obama and the other presidents I’ll give them a little slack on this one, because presidents don’t want their speeches to be compared to this one because of the impact it had. It change the country from a collection of states to bring forth a new birth of freedom – from the “United States of America is” to the “United States of America are”.
Obama did a reading of the Gettysburg address along with several other prominent people for a PBS special. There are several versions of the address that differ in only a couple of words. All of the versions dating back to the version written in Lincoln’s handwriting signed and dated have the words “that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom.” Some southern newspapers did not print that phrase after the speech had made it down to them within a week- remember no internet or TV existed at the time. President Obama is the only one that read the speech leaving out the phrase “under God”. There is no explanation of why, it was on the teleprompter as he recorded the speech according to the technicians in the studio.
Therefore, Obama continues to disappoint. He has had so many opportunities to try to draw this nation together, and let it seems he prefers to be divisive in everything he does or does not do.