PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S WORDS

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How can 10 sentences be so powerful and long remembered, yet for a 10 year old be the beginning of what most people fear...public speaking? To me, there was nothing grand and glorious about it. In fact, The Gettysburg Address lives on in infinite anguish inside my head.

It was 5th grade at Vine Street Elementary School (1964) and I was assigned to memorize The Gettysburg Address with the purpose of standing in front of the whole school and saying it (from memory). I wasn't allowed to have a cheat sheet. Since I have no clear recollection of that day, I'm assuming it wasn't one of my most stellar moments in life, but rather one that festers for a long time and comes to a head in some quirky, twisted way. 

When I think back, I get flashes of standing there with my skinny legs shaking as I stood tall and scared shitless next to the America flag as I looked out at the whole student body staring at me. Damn you, President Lincoln! And Damn you, Mrs. Shitforbrains! Thank you for reinforcing all my negative feelings about being an awkward, unattractive beanpole who was mistaken much too often as being a boy. Oh yeah! Me and Abe have it going on, bitches! Eat your hearts out!

Did I vomit? No! Did I wet myself? No! I suppose I did what I was assigned to do, but as I type this post I have a painful knot in the pit of my gut making me feel uncomfortable and nauseous. With that thought, I leave you with the words of our beloved 16th president.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
 
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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