The Gettysburg Address reaches into the heart of "virtually every American" and has come to define who we are as a country, former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich tells Newsmax.
"It is the greatest statement by which Lincoln reminds everyone what the Civil War's all about," Gingrich said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV. "It's also the great moment where he ties freedom to be the very essence of America, that we are a country that believes in government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's delivering the Gettysburg Address, four and a half months after the pivotal battle in which the Union army defeated Confederate forces.
The former speaker of the House has co-authored, with William Forstchen, a series of historical fiction novels on the Civil War. They published "Gettysburg" in 2010.
"[Lincoln] establishes freedom as the very central meaning of America as a country, and it's something which still, 150 years later, has enormous power," he says.
Gingrich explains that in the famous speech, Lincoln tells Americans "that those who died here gave the last full measure of their life and that we cannot abandon them, we cannot desert them"
Lincoln was at Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 19, 1863, "to unveil the first national military cemetery, to celebrate the opening of that cemetery," Gingrich explained.
The Battle of Gettysburg lasted three days and is considered one of the largest and deadliest battles of the Civil War, leaving more than 30,000 dead and wounded soldiers in its aftermath.
"The battlefield was still visibly scarred by the fighting," Gingrich says. "The graves were still visibly out there naked, without grass yet having grown. So, it was a very sobering moment for the entire country, and Lincoln managed to take and turn that historic moment into an explanation because, after all, he's about to run for re-election.
"He's been fighting a war for three years, people are sick and tired of it, and he has to rally the country to believe that they have to follow through and win the war. And this speech is a major part of that effort."
Gingrich says that he is very concerned that today, many schoolchildren don't know why Lincoln gave the speech and why it's important to our nation's history.
"[I'm] very concerned about almost an amnesia, which our modern, left-wing education establishment has imposed on our children," Gingrich said. "The number of children who know anything about American history is frighteningly small."
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