Dallas Academy’s American History students have been studying the American Civil War. High school history teacher Caroline Cooper tasked her students with examining the events leading up to war, the battles waged, and the lasting impact the war had on our nation. Throughout their studies, students gained a better understanding of the costs and sacrifices made for freedom. At the end of the unit, students delved into the history and meaning behind one of the most enduring speeches made during the Civil War. Each student was asked to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address, the speech made famous by President Abraham Lincoln during the dedication of the National Cemetery of Gettysburg on November 19th, 1863. Members of Dallas Academy’s junior class did a fantastic job of reciting their speeches but, more importantly, gained an understanding and appreciation of the words spoken by President Lincoln on that great battlefield.
In November 1863, President Lincoln was invited to deliver remarks at the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery. The Battle of Gettysburg had claimed the lives of 23,000 Union soldiers and 28,000 Confederates soldiers in the summer of 1863, more than any other battle in American history. The featured speaker for the ceremony was the famous orator Edward Everett who spoke for more than two hours to the crowd of 15,000 people. Lincoln then rose to the podium to share his brief two minute speech. In just 273 words, Lincoln was able to convey his hope for the future of our great nation. Lincoln’s address is now remembered as one of the most important speeches in history. Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality, freedom, and the desire to ensure that the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” will last forever. The themes of Lincoln’s speech ring just as true today as they did in 1863.
Each Dallas Academy student took a turn climbing up to the podium on the Donald Hall stage, standing in front of their parents, peers, and faculty, and recited Lincoln’s moving words. Dallas Academy welcomed Dallas City Councilman from District 9, Mark Clayton, teacher, Maryann Dudzinski, and Community Bank Manager at Mutual of Omaha, Cheryl Barns, to serve as judges during the oration competition. The judges and audience members alike were blown away by the caliber of our students' presentations. In the end, Rory Moore won top prize while Olivia Eastus and Jack Huhner both received honorable mentions. Every student did a wonderful job presenting the Gettysburg Address for the audience. Each student gained confidence in their public speaking ability and will always remember President Lincoln’s timeless words.
The Gettysburg Address
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.