Thousands of people swarmed the battlefield where President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg’s Address to celebrate the 150th anniversary on Tuesday of that momentous speech.
The short speech in the midst of the Civil War has inspired people for generations, and even young school children are familiar with the opening words: “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.”
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“President Lincoln sought to heal a nation's wounds by defining what a nation should be," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett told CBS. "Lincoln wrote his words on paper,
but he also inscribed them in our hearts."
The speech, of which five known copies of the words all written in Lincoln’s script survive, was daring even in those opening words that spoke of equality in a time of slavery.
"In 272 words he put together what everyone was thinking, what everyone should know," historian John Heiser told CBS.
Although inspiring, the speech wasn’t immediately recognized as being important, The Associated Press noted
In fact, one newspaper, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, recently retracted an editorial from 1863 that had called the president’s address “silly remarks.”
“Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote
As part of the anniversary celebration, the AP said high school student Lauren Pyfer read a contemporary Gettysburg Address, part of a contest held for the event. Pyfer told the thousands gathered to “nurture and preserve the rights of humanity, equality and freedom, across all nations. It is impossible for one country to close its doors to other countries and still thrive.”
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