Wednesday, November 20, 2013

150 Years and One Day Ago Today...

... President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Yesterday's coverage of the event noted that the speech was 272 words and it took Lincoln only two minutes to deliver it. It was preceded by Edward Everett's two-hour oration, which is remembered now only because of what followed it: 10 perfectly crafted sentences that conveyed a nation's aspirations and ideals.

One score and three years ago, I wrote about the Gettysburg Address. About how I memorized it in school, promptly forgot it and wished I had remembered it (among many other things).

Memorization seems even quainter now than it did in 1990. Why remember words when you can look them up on your smart phone? 

Perhaps the reason I gave so long ago is still true today. Learning a passage or a poem "by heart" liberates us, I said. "Once we know the words we carry their wisdom around with us; we are freed from the printed page."

Lincoln's words liberated us — in more ways than one. 

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