It took me three days to figure out what I wanted to do with this week’s topic:
“Rewrite the Gettysburg Address for today’s audiences.”
I originally figured it would be fun and challenging, but straight forward enough: I’d merely rewrite the language to reflect 2013 and wham bam, end of topic. It wasn’t until I actually started that I realized that the Gettysburg Address was a really damn good speech and truly did not need to be updated in the way that I had originally planned. Seriously. It’s a great and to-the-point. Oddly enough, I remembered the random fact that it was only 272 words long and noted the irony that I can’t seem to explain anything in less than 500 words, haha. I decided around 12:30 a.m. on Friday/Saturday that I wanted to change directions. Instead of updating the text of the speech, I decided to rewrite it as though it were being spoken today about what I think is the biggest (current) corresponding issue in America today: Marriage Equality.
I made the setting outside the Supreme Court and really took my time figuring out what I wanted to say while keeping it within the under 300 words range. I’m so not a politician and I’m terrified that I’ll get a whole bunch of mockery/eye-rolling/hate for my attempt. I had both President Obama and any random SNL actor’s voice in my head as I tried to write it, haha. This may be a week that I’ve failed at this challenge, but I’m very glad I tried because it inspired me to not only read the Gettysburg address, but also the Emancipation Proclamation and Declaration of Independence, all of which I have not read since it was a homework assignment in Jr. High. I “get” them more now as a 29-year-old than I did as a 14-year-old.
Here’s the original 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.
I still can’t get over just how well written it is. I’m so humbled and jealous by it. Here’s my attempt at a modern day rewrite. Be kind to me, lol:
237 years ago, our brave forefathers created this great nation, the United States of America. It was envisioned as a country that would honor the principle of liberty and dedicated to the ideal that all men are created equal.
America now faces her toughest challenge yet. We are engaged in a great civil war, a civil war that tests whether or not we, as a nation, can endure on our foundation of freedom and equality. We are met on a great battlefield of this war, a war that will determine the future of our nation’s human rights for generations to come. As I stand here today, outside of our Supreme Court, I call upon you to remember the brave souls of those who gave their lives so that we could continue to honor our forefathers’ vision of a nation that thrived on giving liberty and justice to all.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, consecrate, or hallow this ground. That honor belongs to the brave men and women who have tirelessly struggled for equality, obeyed their civic duties the same as the next, and loved just as rightfully as their neighbor has.
What we say here today may become a mere historical footnote, but the significance of what they have fought for will never be forgotten. It is our duty to remain dedicated to the unfinished work which they who have strived towards have thus far so nobly advanced. We must carry on so that their efforts shall not be in vain and be strong in our resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that our government of the people, for the people, by the people, shall remain just as strong as it was on the day our forefathers signed it into being.
Okay, your turn. What do you got? Leave any notes or responses in the comments section.