Civil War Fangirl

The thoughts of a (slighty eccentric & crazy) Canadian who happens to be obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman & the Civil War

Archive for the tag “speeches”

The timeless words of Abraham Lincoln

Today is the 153rd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address given by Abraham Lincoln. Those of us who love Lincoln most likely have it, or at least most of it, memorized – a feat I undertook a the age of seven. Even those who may not be as familiar with him will recognize at least a few lines from one of Lincoln’s greatest and most well-known speeches (and perhaps one of the most famous speeches in the entire world).

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty

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…

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, but this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom…

gettysburg_address

“Gettysburg Address” by Mort Kunstler. He’s one of my favourite artists EVER. Amazing painter. Google him.

These words, along with the entire speech, are so well known, just as many of Lincoln’s speeches are. And if not the entire speech, at least a few lines are known from them and often quoted.

Now, more than ever, we need Lincoln’s words. Not just from the Gettysburg Address, but from his other speeches – the First Inaugural, the Second Inaugural and many others. I don’t need to say why we need them ever. We all know why. 

This post came to me about 30 minutes before I had to leave for work yesterday. I knew I wanted to write something to post on the anniversary of the address…but what exactly to write evaded me.  Given the turmoil happening in a country that is a like my second home, a country I love very much and a country where many that I love very dearly live (y’all know who you are) I wanted to write something hopeful, something positive. I’ve been turning to Lincoln’s words very much in recent weeks and I know a few others who have been doing this as well. So, this post is to bring hope, to show how remembering what Lincoln said – not just the Gettysburg Address but his other speeches as well – can perhaps help us see a light in the darkness, and most of all, remember what he stood for.

His words show us how he felt about his country, how much he loved it but also how we should be to others. To have empathy, as he did. To accept, as he did. To laugh, as he so very much loved to do. To grieve and to feel sorrow. But most of all, to find hope. His words are absolutely timeless.

There are so many lines that come to mind. I can’t possibly write them all down here. But some of my favourites that I find solace in, that bring me hope, that remind the type of person I should strive to be, are the ones I’ve chosen to include in this post.

The one I’ve been thinking of the most lately is from his First Inaugural, given on March 4, 1861…

I am loathe to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature.

It is “….not enemies but friends” and “…the better angels of our nature” that move me the most. It is these lines that remind me to be a good person, to treat people with respect and that though we may have differences, we need to stay together and be friends. And, if not friends, respect people for their differences.

His Second Inaugural, given on March 4th, 1864, is another one that stands out in my mind, and there is one very line in particular:

With malice toward none

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Abraham Lincoln giving his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1864

Those four words to me have always stood out to me. Just like the First Inaugural, they remind us how they should be. On a more grander scale, the rest of the closing of the speech is powerful too, showing that darkness can be overcome:

…let us strive to finish the word we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Lincoln, so well ahead of his time, knew peace could be achieved. I believe he truly did.

From his Annual Message to Congress on December 1, 1862:

The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if follow, the world will forever applaud…

From the Cooper Union Address, given on February 27, 1860:

Let us have faith the right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dar to do our duty as we understand it…

And here are some random quotes that I love…

Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.

He reminds us to never give up…

Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life.

The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a case we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. (“Speech on the Sub-Treasury” given in the Illinois House of Representatives December 26, 1839)

Having friends is awesome…

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships…

So, those are just a few of my favourite words from one of my favourite men, Abraham Lincoln.

One line in the Gettysburg Address that has always stuck out to me (especially when I was 7, this line really hit me…)

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here…

It is not surprising that Lincoln, a truly humble man, would say this. He was sure his words would not go down in history. But as we remember today, on this 153rd anniversary, his words are still very much alive as they were that very long time ago. Many years from now his timeless words will continue to be remembered and perhaps, things like “…the better angels of our nature” and “…with malice toward none” will be taken more to heart.

Abraham Lincoln helped his nation through a very dark time. Lincoln’s words are timeless and in them we can find hope to persevere, hope that we can become better people and most of all, find hope that the darkness, when it happens, can be overcome and that the light will shine through. Lincoln helped get his country through a dark time and these words show just that.

I’d love to know some of your favourite words from Lincoln. Please leave them in a comment, write me on Twitter or on my Facebook page. And tell me why that particular line from a speech or from something he said means so much to you.

Thank you so much for reading. Y’all are awesome.

Until next time,

Mary

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