Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gettysburg Address: New Addition to Civil War Exhibit

Jeff Rowley has been kind enough to provide his family's copy of the Gettysburg Address to NCCHP to be exhibited as part of the Civil War exhibit, on a long term loan basis. According to family legend the address was given to his grandmother, Anna Schusler, when she was a small child (very early 1900's). She had recited the Gettysburg Address at her school in Hartford, CT and the document was presented to her at that time.

The actual age of the document, which measures approximately 19" by 24" is unknown but it is interesting that it is not titled as "The Gettysburg Address" but rather "President Lincoln's Great Speech." It was later framed by Jeff's grandfather, Levi Rowley in 1910 (based on a copy of the Hartford Times newspaper that was used as backing during the framing process). Levi Rowley's ancestors were from Granville, many of whom had worked at Noble & Cooley.

The first display of the Address at NCCHP coincided with the "Letters Home During the Civil War" presentation and triggered a number of impromptu memorized recitations from those of certain generations who were in attendance (do school kids still memorize the Gettysburg Address?).

Everybody knows "Four score and seven years ago..." but reading the speech today with the benefit of age and presumably wisdom, the most remarkable portion of the speech is the final paragraph and Lincoln's uncanny sense of the importance of being "dedicated to the great task remaining before us" that the nation "shall have a new birth of freedom." His call to action could just as well be in response to the events we still see nearly every day on the news.

After more than 150 years it is still "for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work... for which they gave the last full measure of devotion." Isn't it time to remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion and rededicate ourselves to achieving the new birth of freedom Lincoln dreamed of and for which our ancestors died?