Gettysburg – There is Always a Price to Pay for Freedom
The most famous speech in the history of our nation was delivered on November 19, 1863 at a cemetery in a small Pennsylvania town by President Abraham Lincoln. It was not a long speech – only 272 words lasting less than three minutes. In fact the speech was so short, photographers didn’t even get a picture.
But just what was it about that 3 minute speech that made it so very powerful? Truly no one there that day expected the powerful impact that event and that speech would have on history. Those present that day remarked later that it didn’t appear to be a well-planned speech. Some even noted that it seemed he was still writing down just what he would say while waiting on the platform to be introduced.
So then, what was it that made that speech so famous? It was what had happened there only a few short months before in Gettysburg. You see, our nation was in a terrible civil war, and tens of millions of men had left their farms and families to fight for their cause; and although the Northern armies were larger in number and better equipped, the South was actually winning the war – and General Robert E. Lee had a plan to have his Southern armies fight their way into Washington, DC. – He knew that if he could attack and take the Nation’s capital, he knew that the North would have to surrender.
But just exactly what happened there at Gettysburg?
What happened in Gettysburg was not planned by anyone, but two large armies totaling almost 170,000 men literally came upon each other strictly by accident near this small town, Gettysburg, and the battle that took place over the next three days was the harshest single battle in the history of our Nation, with over 43,000 Union and Confederate soldiers killed or wounded.
The battlefield was a terrible picture of suffering and blood and death. According to one account a small creek running through the battlefield was literally turned red from the soldier’s shed blood. When a local schoolhouse was turned into a makeshift hospital for the wounded, the blood ran so deep they had to drill holes in the floor just for the blood to drain. On July 3, 1863, when the Battle of Gettysburg ended, there were so many graves there that they actually turned part of the battlefield into a cemetery.
So when Abraham Lincoln spoke that day to commemorate that Gettysburg Cemetery he felt whatever he said would not be enough. He said,
“We cannot consecrate 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…”
You see, it wasn’t what Abraham Lincoln said that day that made his speech so powerful – it was what the soldiers had done there – they had given their last full measure of devotion to a Nation they each loved enough to die for. This is the great task we have before us always – to remember, to honor, to never forget those who have given their last full measure of devotion.
Please do not forget, please do not forget. There is always a price to pay for freedom – that price has been paid.
About Jerry Stewart
I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us. To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old. So, here’s where the stories have taken me. In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State. Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.