Lincoln's address at the opening ceremony of the Soldiers' National Memorial-Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the 2nd anniversary of the start of the Civil War
Eighty-seven years ago our fathers gave birth to a new, free nation on this continent, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal.
We are now engaged in a great civil war, in which it will be tested whether this nation, or any other nation, with such foundations and aspirations, can have a future. We gathered on the very battlefield of this war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of this field to the eternal resting place of those who died that this nation might live. We have to and understand to do this.
But, in a broader sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot bless - we cannot sanctify - this land.
The brave warriors, both living and dead, who have fought here have already blessed it, beyond our helpless powers to add or subtract.
The world will not much notice or remember the words spoken here, but it will never forget what they did here.
It is our duty, the living, to dedicate ourselves to the never-ending work for which the fighters here so honorably fought.
It is for us who are here to dedicate ourselves to the great challenge that lies before us—to imbue these worthy dead with more devotion to the cause for which they gave themselves—it is our duty to prove that the sacrifices of those who died here were not in vain—that this nation, before God, is again with the freedom of Ishva - and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people is not taken from the person of the land.
1863, November 19
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