The Gettysburg Address is more than the speech itself or the man who gave it. It was a dedication to the soldiers who died on that battlefield to preserve the Union and to give the human right of freedom to all. President Lincoln's address is eternal because not only was it a dedication to the ultimate sacrifice that had already happened, but even more essential was that it set the marking point of a new birth for this nation forever.
Next year, on November 19, 2013, we get to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the speech that set the moral compass for "a new birth of freedom." The president, who will be boarding the train from the White House to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the memoriam will be the very symbol of what that speech was dedicated to and what those soldiers died for.
The first African American president in this nation's history will walk the Gettysburg battlefield next year as the leader of our country. When he humbly observes the Soldier's National Cemetery, he will see all those who died for him and the nation we have today. Those warriors died for the freedom of people they never knew, and all of us who are free today will never know them, yet we are all connected.
That's what makes the symbolism of next year's anniversary historic. No matter what your politics are, or how much you may disagree with the president, next year's historic moment at Gettysburg should make us all proud.
It should also make us reflect on how much sacrifice was made to make the country we have today. And also, how much more work there's still left to do. This country is still very much divided. There are still visible and hidden tensions among races and cultures that need to be healed.
President Lincoln challenged posterity to this healing in the Gettysburg Address when he said, "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."
We may never reach perfection of this work, but it's every generation's burden to try.
The one line Lincoln got wrong in the Address was when he modestly commented that, "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here... " Nearly 150 years later, the world remembers what Lincoln said there more than he could ever have imagined.
Now, it's all of our responsibility to make sure that we "never forget what they did here."