Last week I was in Washington D.C., on the way to a conference in Baltimore. It was my fifth time in D.C. since a first memorable class trip from Toronto at the impressionable age of 13, which included a heartbreaking visit to the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
As on previous D.C. trips, I made a point of stopping by the Lincoln Memorial, and reading those familiar words inscribed on the south wall: the Gettysburg Address.
As ever, I was moved.
I’m half Canadian, half American, having grown up in Ontario but having spent most of my adult working life in Colorado. Every time I read Lincoln’s words, especially in such sober surroundings (selfies aside), I’m reminded why I’m proud of my American half.
I go to the Lincoln Memorial to reflect on liberty, equality, freedom … and hope. To ground myself with the knowledge that people before me have cared passionately about and have fought and died for these things. To remember and be grateful.
This year in particular, I feel very strongly that we could all use a little historical shot in the arm to remind us of the value of (and the price of) freedom.
So here’s Jeff Daniels speaking Lincoln’s words, delivered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863 (2 mins 48 secs).
FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS
AGO OUR FATHERS BROUGHT FORTH
ON THIS CONTINENT A NEW NATION
CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY AND DEDICA-
TED 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 CON-
CEIVED AND SO DEDICATED CAN LONG
ENDURE. WE ARE MET ON A GREAT
BATTLEFIELD 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 FIT-
TING 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 LIV-
ING 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.