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Arts & Culture

Gettysburg Address Anniversary: Remembering A Message For The Ages

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This Thanksgiving week marks the anniversary of one of history's most meaningful speeches. In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln visited Gettysburg, Pa.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It was during the Civil War. Union forces had defeated Confederates at Gettysburg. And Lincoln was dedicating a cemetery for the battle's dead.

INSKEEP: In a little over two minutes, he delivered a message to the crowd in their top hats.

MARTIN: It was also a message to later generations. Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

INSKEEP: Those words are so familiar it's possible to miss what Lincoln really said. The war was being fought over slavery - the idea that not everyone should be equal. Lincoln affirmed the very purpose of the country is equality, as the Declaration of Independence says.

MARTIN: The president referred to the soldiers buried near him. 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLACK PRAIRIE'S "JOAN MCINTYRE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.