Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Grace Richards

It is easy to forget that Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address to dedicate a graveyard. The power of the Gettysburg Address has endured through the centuries, words of inspiration and patriotism lifted up time and time again. But these were words offered by a man at the wheel of a shattering ship, endlessly driven against the rocks by the heaving storm of war. The crowd stood upon yet another blood-soaked battleground, and Lincoln spoke to the families of a grieving nation from the fields where their sons had died. And yet, against all odds, the Gettysburg Address is a speech about hope. Lincoln transformed a memorial to terrible loss into a call to honor the dead, to remember the beauty of the cause for which they fought. He reminded all who listened that death is not a call to sorrow, but a call to action. The only way to truly honor the dead is to finish the work they have left undone, to live as they would have wanted to live. He helped the mourning see through the eyes of the fallen soldiers, shared their hope for a nation united once more and living the ideals on which it was founded: liberty and equality for all. Today, the Gettysburg Address still holds meaning. Lincoln called not only to those standing on the battlefield, but to all. Until all the wounds of inequality are healed, until the dreams of men like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. are realized, then the Gettysburg Address will still be a call to action, and a call to remember the origins of this great nation. Grace Richards Wheaton North High School Wheaton, IL