Eleven Score and Ten

July 4, 1776.  230 years ago.  The Declaration of Independence.  The birth of a nation and a way of life.  We celebrate the birth of the greatest nation in the world with barbecues and pool parties, ball games and picnics, and fireworks.  Lots of fireworks.

On November 19, 1863, a new cemetery was dedicated on the site of a Civil War battlefield.  The program included "Remarks, by the President of the United States."  Ten sentences.  272 words.  In under three minutes, Abraham Lincoln gave what most people would say is the greatest speech in the history of the United States, before or since.  In case you haven’t read it recently, here’s what he said:

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

Have a Happy Independence Day.


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