Essays inspired by Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Presidential library opens display of 272-word essays by leaders
such as Jimmy Carter, Sandra Day O'Connor
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[October 21, 2013]
SPRINGFIELD -- As the Gettysburg
Address nears its 150th birthday, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library and Museum is launching an exhibit of essays inspired by
that speech's 272 timeless words. Contributors include President
Jimmy Carter, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor,
civil rights leader Julian Bond and dozens more.
The essays were written for the "272 Words" project organized by the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. A sampling of the
essays is now on display in the museum. The display will change
periodically to showcase different writers. In addition, the winning
entries in a national student essay contest will be added to the
display later this month.
The display is part of the presidential
library's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg
Address, which Lincoln delivered Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of
a cemetery for soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.
"With just 272 simple words, Lincoln honored the soldiers,
challenged the audience to be worthy of their sacrifice and
presented the Civil War as a struggle for the nation's soul," said
Carla Knorowski, chief executive officer of the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library Foundation. "We thought it made sense to
celebrate Lincoln's achievement by asking modern leaders to reflect
on something important to them."
Jimmy Carter, for instance, wrote about visiting Gettysburg while
negotiating the Camp David peace accords with Menachem Begin of
Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt. When they reached the site of
Lincoln's address, the group fell into stunned silence when Begin
started reciting the speech from memory. "It was my most
unforgettable moment at a memorial to war," Carter writes.
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Julian Bond, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee and former NAACP chairman, writes about his grandfather's
life as a slave. "He and his mother were property, like a horse on a
chain," Bond says in his essay.
"Interpretations of the Gettysburg Address and its most powerful
phrase, 'a new birth of freedom,' multiply through the decades. Its
great meaning resounds throughout the world," said Eileen Mackevich,
director of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
More information about the "272
Words" project and the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address is
available at www.GettysburgAddress150.com. Essays will also be
posted periodically on the presidential library's Tumblr site,
Events include a special display of the presidential library's
handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address (one of just five in the
world), a midnight recitation of the address, educational workshops
and webcasts and a round-table discussion of the speech's legacy.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
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