Abraham Lincoln’s Speech “the Gettysburg Address” Essay
Lincoln is one of the most renowned presidents of the United States. He was an inspiring leader and his speeches still speak to people’s hearts. Lincoln’s speeches have been used by many people who pursued different goals (Peatman 203). Thus, presidents of the USA, leaders of other countries and even filmmakers often refer to Lincoln’s words (Peatman 203).
One of his speeches used most often is the Gettysburg Address. It appeals to people’s hearts and focuses on the greatest values cherished by Americans. Admittedly, the speech may mean different things to different people. I would like to analyze the speech to understand what it means for me and why it has such an effect on me.
Analysis of the Speech
In the first place, it is necessary to note that it quite a brief but very appealing address to the nation. In just one paragraph, Lincoln revealed basic values of democracy. He focused on major values, equality and liberty (Lincoln n.p.). The speech contains many bright metaphors that appeal to people’s hearts.
For instance, Lincoln notes that even though they came to dedicate the cemetery to brave soldiers of the Civil War, they could not “consecrate” the land as the men “living and dead” had consecrated it with their blood (Lincoln n.p.). The President calls the cemetery a “resting place” for courageous soldiers who deserve the rest after their great labors (Lincoln n.p.). Admittedly, these literary devices make the speech memorable and touching.
It is remarkable that Lincoln speaks a lot about the nation. Thus, he starts his speech with mentioning first settlers who “brought forth… a new nation, conceived in liberty” (Lincoln n.p.). The nation and liberty are two central topics in the Gettysburg Address. The President stresses that it is the responsibility of people to protect gaining of their ancestors. The first settlers started the nation cherishing principles of liberty and the Civil War was the period when the nation got “a new birth of freedom” (Lincoln n.p.).
The inspiring leader reminds the great purpose of the horrible Civil War that took lives of thousands of brave men. Importantly, the President does not employ the concept of the country that implies territories and natural resources. He utilizes the concept of the nation, in other words, people who are the primary value for him. This is very important as people are more willing to follow the leader who cares about them, not some lands.
It is also noteworthy that Lincoln uses first person plural. He does not say that somebody has to do something for the nation. He stresses that he and people who are present (as well as the entire nation) have to act and struggle for liberty. Lincoln inspires people as he shows his readiness to act. Therefore, the President is the model and people are eager to follow him.
The Significance of the Speech
The brief analyses has shown major characteristics of the speech and it is easy to understand what it means for me and why. In the first place, the speech is a call for action. I believe the speech is a great reminder for people including me. When reading the speech, I become inspired and I am ready to act.
I understand that many people died for what they believed in and I had to contribute to the society that was created with so many sacrifices. Of course, no one asks me to give my life for the nation but I am sure that I will be ready to do a lot to help the nation flourish. When reading Lincoln’s speech, I understand that every American has to think about his contribution to the development of the society instead of simply consuming goods and services. The speech is a call for action for me.
It is also clear why the speech has such an effect. I know that the words helped people reconcile with their losses and brought hope to their hearts. The President mentions sacrifices and justifies them. Admittedly, it is simply impossible to remain indifferent to such a call for action.
Apart from this, the speech is also a reminder of the central value cherished by Americans. Liberty is one of the most important things for a person. I believe the speech is must-read for all in the US society. Admittedly, there are instances when liberties are limited and democracy is not fully manifested even in the US society. There is still racism and prejudice.
However, I think that the speech can remind people of the importance of this democratic value. I guess the speech reveals the essence of the nation as people came to the new world for liberty and freedom from European conventions and restriction.
It is but natural that liberty is what all generations of Americans have valued. Lincoln’s speech reveals this long for liberty and freedom. Therefore, people (especially those in power) have to read the speech every morning before they start making decisions. They have to remember that the nation needs liberty, otherwise, it will cease to exist.
Finally, the speech for me is also a reminder of the great history of the Americans who managed to create such a strong nation. The speech addresses only one episode of the American history but this episode is very suggestive. The USA is the country where people managed to win the battle for their liberties. First, the liberties were mere manifestations in some documents but gradually people managed to bring them to life.
The speech also addresses the major value and the struggle for it. When reading the speech, I personally, think of the Civil war, and the struggle for slavery abolition, the Civil Rights movement and a variety of stories concerning the struggle of people for their rights. I do not think Lincoln could predict how many more people would die before true liberty could reign in the country. However, in his speech he touched the subject and justified people’s sacrifice.
On balance, it is possible to note the speech is one of the brightest examples of oratory as it achieves its aim. It inspires people to struggle for their rights. For me, the speech is a reminder of people’s sacrifice, a brief account of the American history and a call for action. I am willing to contribute to development of the society and I believe that I will make my contribution. I also think I will face certain obstacle and I may even lose hope. However, reading the famous speech of Lincoln will inspire me to act and pursue my goals.
Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. 2013.
Peatman, Jared. The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Carbondale, IL: SIU Press, 2013. Print.
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