Looking to the past
Americans celebrated Memorial Day last week. Well, Americans grilled burgers, played games, downed a cold one or two, and otherwise enjoyed a three-day weekend. As for the real Memorial Day, it seemed to get lost amid all the fun.
Memorial Day traces its roots back to Gettysburg, Penn. The day was Nov. 19, 1863, and the event was the dedication of the National Cemetery of Gettysburg. Edward Everett was the featured speaker. A former Harvard University president, former U.S. senator and a former secretary of state, Everett was widely considered to be one of the nation’s greatest orators.
President Abraham Lincoln was not invited until Nov. 2, and then he was told to make “a few appropriate remarks.” Everett’s two hours of oration has long been forgotten. Lincoln’s 273-word address still resonates.
Lincoln told the assembled “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...”