November 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln. It’s an amazing piece of writing–both for its powerful message and for its succinctness. It’s worth revisiting, especially in a climate in which the notion of the greater good–and even the union of our country itself–has been eroded by extremist, nihilist politicians who are not interested in improving people’s lives, or in governing at all.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns recently invited presidents, Congressional representatives, entertainers, news pundits and others to read the Gettysburg Address. Then, he mashed them all up into a single reading. I have a little trouble even listening to a few words from some of them, but the words they speak are important. [Some of these readers should listen more carefully to the Address, because I doubt that they embody its values. You know who you are.]
The mashup is part of an effort to commemorate the 150th anniversary by getting Americans to learn its words–and to value its message of unity and belief in the common good. The project’s organizers encourage everyday people to record their own readings of the Gettysburg Address on video, and to share them on their site, Learn the Address.