Four score and seven years ago. A famous man said these famous words at a now famous place during a famous time in American history; yes, the correct answer is Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg during the American Civil War.
Gettysburg served as more than where the Gettysburg Address was delivered in the past, and that is equally true in the present, boasting many monuments and tokens towards those who fell in the Civil War, including a large memorial graveyard. While they may not have any plaques, at least that I saw, telling you what exactly a “score” is (a “score” is nineteenth century slang for “twenty” by the way; four score and seven years translates to eighty-seven years), there is much more to this hallowed place than there may seem.
The entire site is far more miles than even the Nomads were willing to walk, though there are several spots worth seeing. Near the visitor center young and not-so-young can (and I encourage them to) get their picture with a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. However, despite the various walks and tours that can be taken, what imprinted on this Nomad the most was the cemetery.
The Gettysburg Cemetery makes quite the impression. Walking in beneath the leaves of trees, until you step out into a cool, light drizzle and see a field of small white stones that stretch on farther than the eye can see, each marking the grave of an unknown Civil War soldier. The large memorial graveyard feeling impresses nothing but quiet respect on those touring this sombre yard. However, despite this grave scene (I’m only respectfully punny, I swear), one can glimpse bits of color within the leaves; bright blue and red birds darting about, keeping watch over the resting places of our ancestors. I believe this is what Abraham Lincoln envisioned when he was giving his speech; to not allow us to forget those who gave, and are giving their lives, for us, but not without giving us a view of hope on the horizon.
For Mr. Lincoln, that hope was of a united, free nation. Many forget that while slavery was one of the issues during the Civil War, Lincoln’s own, self-professed primary concern was a single, strong union. Lincoln is known for saying (and if he’s not he should be), that, and I’m paraphrasing here, that he would do anything to have a single nation; North or South, he viewed them as Americans, and I believe Gettysburg reflects that ideal. In Gettysburg you have memorials dedicated to both sides of the conflict, and buried there are both Confederate and Union troops.
Let us not forget one of the reasons why Gettysburg is so famous; Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address was delivered there, and you can even stand where he stood when he gave it. The man who gave his speech before the President exhausted his listeners with a thorough two hour plus speech; our Commander-In- Chief’s ran for less than ten minutes.
Lincoln left feeling that his speech was inadequate, believing that those who came after would not remember what was done there that day; he could not have been more wrong. Not only have we been deeply impressed, and continue to be so, by the words spoken in memory that day, but we have dedicated a large swath of land to allow those who gave their lives in that bloody conflict the peace and respect they deserve. Let us remember that as we walk through those green fields and marvel at the statues, idly reading the plaques. Let us not forget those who stood and died where we stood; let us pay our respects and appreciate the sacrifices made. Let us remember what happened seven score and two years ago.