266 Perfect Words
I love to write, and have no lack of subjects or stories to tell. However, every so often in my research I come across something so outstanding that it renders what I have to say of secondary importance to sharing what I have discovered. Sometimes it is obscure, the kind of thing few would know. On occasion, it is a chance to restate the known if only to remind us of our remarkable past and the great triumphs that built the nation we now enjoy.
In preparing my July 3rd entry (“Who Paid For July 4th?”), I came across President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg address which totals all of 266 words — 266 perfect words perfectly arranged, perfectly appropriate for such a divisive period in our nation’s history. These solemn words were delivered by President Lincoln on November 19, 1863 at the place of battle where more than 6,655 Confederate and Union soldiers, Americans one and all, only months before lost their lives:
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 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 another 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.