He spoke with an air of authority that was reassuring, and when he sprang down from the wagon and joined a group of officers on the sidewalk, I knew that something was in the wind.
—The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, by Eliza Frances Andrews
My most dyslexic student read these words to us this morning …
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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.
… and it took him about ten minutes to get through those remarkable two-hundred and sixty-eight, scurrying-around brain squirrels.
He read each word … he repeated some words … he mispronounced a whole bunch of words, and his classmates, kindly, with understanding and patience, helped him pronounce the words correctly. It was the most beautiful reading of the Gettysburg Address I’ve ever heard. I chunked him the plucked chicken and we clapped for him. His happy expression at that moment shall not perish, ever, from my mind.
And because these words are so inspiring … because this speech is so wonderfully well written and so well-conceived, I had another student read it out loud because she really wanted to. Montene’s hand was wiggling off her wrist. Her arm was wiggling off her shoulder to get me to let her do it. Montene read the first sentence this way …
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the prostitution that all men are created equal.
… and with that, Dixie, it’s all pretty much equal in the only way my scholars can make it. Our special fun shall not perish from the Earth. I just know it.
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