Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Hallowed Ground - Gettysburg, Penn.

Statue of the 1st.
Penn. Cavalry
at Gettysburg

George Will writes again here in the Washington Post about the Battle of Gettysburg and the important role it played in U.S. and World History. It was here on this "hallowed ground" that the Union was saved and the Confederacy reached its "high-water mark", with Pickett's charge.

Wills article gives well-deserved credit to Bob Kinsley and the Gettysburg Foundation for the work they have done in building a new Museum and Visitor Center. Kinsley, who is from nearby York, Penn., was the founder of the Gettysburg Foundation. Kinsley hired Bob Wilburn, formerly of Colonial Williamsburg, who raised the funds necessary to build a new center - $103 million of private monies. Having just visited Gettysburg in 2006 I can testify that a new visitor center was badly needed.

The Museum and Vistor Center includes a theater, where a film narrated by actor Morgan Freeman can be seen and a new and proper setting for the Cyclorama, the 1884 circular painting of Pickett's charge. The Gettysburg Foundation has also purchased the 80-acre Spangler farm , that served as a hospital during the battle. The foundation is working to preserve more battle sites for future generations.

This is not new ground for George Will. Ten years ago he devoted another column to this topic. It has been reposted here.

On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave this short speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. If simple words can begin to give justice to the sacrifices made on those three days of battle in July of 1863, perhaps Lincoln's can:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon 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 battlefield 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 cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot 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 earth.

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