why is the gettysburg address important today

contains two simple truths. One is to be found in its first sentence, one in its last. The first is that "all men are created equal". The second lies in Abraham Lincoln's determination that "в government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. " A century and a half after they were spoken, the force of those 21 words is undiminished. This is not to say the rest of the Address no longer holds meaning. We should remember those who fought and died in the American Civil War. All Lincoln's words are wonderful to read and written in a way that is easy for people to understand. His speeches have a poetic simplicity. But today, when we read the Gettysburg Address, we should first be reminded that in the US в as around the world в the simple truths it expresses are under sustained assault. Food-stamp cuts. Public-service cuts. Attacks on voting rights in a democratic system completely at the mercy of money. The death penalty, the awful symbol of a criminal justice system weighted against the poor. Tax inequality. Taxpayers' money used to shore up Wall Street. Opposition to healthcare for all. Opposition to immigration reform. Government surveillance. No one needs a history degree to know the fight for equality and popular democracy did not end, with the American Civil War, in 1865.


Lincoln led a war effort which resulted in the abolition of slavery. We should never forget this в particularly when powerful reminders are available. Mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's speech with
and you will be reminded, with a succession of terrible jolts, that in the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln simply stated the truth. The writer of that film, Tony Ridley, is American. But like me the director, Steve McQueen, is British. So is his star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. The female lead, Lupita Nyong'o, is Kenyan. The Gettysburg Address is a foundation stone of American history, but like the Declaration of Independence (which it cites), it also resonates around the world. Lincoln's words speak clearly to those of us who are from countries, however benignly governed, in which all men are not deemed to be equal. It speaks more urgently to those still living under slavery, or theocracy, or dictatorship. We are all equal в regardless of birth, colour, religious belief or the lack of it, sex or sexual orientation. We are all equal regardless of wealth. We have made strides in recognising that equality, but in the century and a half since slavery fell we have not come close to perfecting it. Our governments should at least attempt to do so. Today, then, we might ask: called upon to read Lincoln's words, could any of our leaders possibly do them justice?


We have a chance to find out. , the documentarian Ken Burns has filmed public figures reading the Gettysburg Address. , as well as congressmen, mayors, historians, journalists and Whoopi Goldberg. Stephen Colbert's performance is meant to be funny. Marco Rubio's, less so. Tea Party favourite Ted Cruz, alas, hasn't yet answered the call. The spectrum of opinion represented в from Bill O'Reilly to Rachel Maddow в demonstrates the chaotic nature of any democracy. But if we can agree, as the participants in Burns' project presumably do, that the Gettysburg Address expresses the fundamental truths on which America was founded, we should at least be honest with ourselves about how those truths relate to America and the world today. Lincoln's words should not simply be celebrated, without questioning what he meant by them. We should also ask what his words mean to us. Whether genuine equality under genuine government of, by and for the people could ever exist is, of course, debatable. What is not in question today is that 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln made the most powerful statement that it should. Four and a half months after the pivotal battle at Gettysburg, a Union victory achieved at a on both sides, President Lincoln came to the battlefield on Nov. 19, 1863 to to those who died there.


His are considered to be among the great speeches delivered by an American leader. anniversary of the start of the Civil War in 2011, a found that 56% of Americans still looked on the war as relevant to American politics and political life. About four-in-ten (39%) regarded it as important historically, but with little political relevance today. About half (48%) of Americans believe the main cause of the war as mainly about statesв rights, while 38% said it was mainly about slavery. Another 9% said both were main reasons. One legacy of the Civil War that had echoed in American politics into this century was the controversy over the display of the Confederate flag. In South Carolina, the atop the State House was a source of heated political and racial controversy for years. В In 2000, a compromise was reached in which the flag was removed from the capitol and a similar flag was raised at the South Carolina Confederate Solider Monument on the State House grounds. Three-in-ten Americans said they had a negative reaction when they saw a Confederate flag displayed while 9% had a positive reaction. About six-in-ten (58%) said they had neither a positive or negative reaction. Category:

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