WNYC (and You!) Read the Gettysburg Address

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, most recently of the film "The Address," discusses the film about boys with learning disabilities who memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address, which Abraham Lincoln gave 150 years ago this month. He's also part of the project "Learn the Address," featuring politician, celebrity, and user-submitted versions of the speech.

On-Air Address! We had Brian Lehrer Show listeners recite the speech, line-by-line, live on the show. (Starts at 8:00 in the audio above)

Update: inspired by Ken Burns' call to action, we made our own video of the Gettysburg Address as read by Brian Lehrer, Brooke Gladstone of On The Media, Studio 360's Kurt Andersen, and other producers from WNYC. 

Full Text of 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.


Ken Burns

Comments [17]

Oliver Trager from Brooklyn

If you are not already hip to it, may I recommend Lord Buckley's hip take on Lincoln's revered movement:

Nov. 19 2013 09:32 AM
Evan from Brooklyn

Sorry, that's "kever".

Nov. 13 2013 11:41 AM
Evan from Brooklyn

The Gettysburg Address in Yeshivish.
That sound you heard is a very tall man spinning in his chevr.

Nov. 13 2013 11:39 AM
Fred from Queens

Lincoln's speech was intended for the general public. Reading the Gettysburg Address, I'm reminded of its beauty and poetry. It's hard to believe how little is expected from our modern politicians and how far we've devolved.

Nov. 12 2013 07:35 PM
Adam from Inwood

I want to thank you and Ken Burns for the opportunity to speak some lines from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I also want to apologize for my performance; I was taking it very seriously but I have ataxia which affects my speech. Perhaps I shouldn't have volunteered because everyone gave a clear performance except me. Could that have been the reason why you talked to every volunteer except me?

Nov. 12 2013 04:08 PM

To Bobby G: In the context of the address, "proposition" can be inferred to mean a "proposition" as in traditional formal logic. If that is the case, "assumption" would be a better synonym than "aspiration."

Nov. 12 2013 12:50 PM
Tony from Canarsie

For me, Charles Laughton's recitation of Lincoln's speech in the classic 1935 film "Ruggles of Red Gap" remains the gold standard.

Nov. 12 2013 12:01 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Maybe people didn't applause because the speech was so short, they weren't sure it was over!

Nov. 12 2013 12:00 PM
Robert from NYC

Hmmm, that guy said what America could be [nervous chuckle]. WOW! What could America be? I mean, you're not satisfied with what it is, is what's implied. So, what can it be(come)?

Nov. 12 2013 11:55 AM

Having a child with ADHD and Dyslexia, I know the great difficulty that my child faces when speaking, particularly in front of others. Ken Burns describes their challenges as defects. My child is not defective, but is different. When you read and think about the meaning of the Gettysburg Address, you might ask why children and all people with disabilities still face discrimination and are spoken about in a way that is degrading. These kids may give Mr. Burns a Hallmark moment. But, ask, why they are not attending a school closer to home. You may find that those kids are not accommodated in their home schools and, therefore, are sent far from home. People with disabilities are also people with abilities. Equal to all. Not defective.

Nov. 12 2013 11:55 AM
Ellen from Park Slope

I was moved to tears while listening to the group recitation.

Thank you Brian.

I wish our leaders all thought about these concepts.

Thanks again.

Nov. 12 2013 11:55 AM
Bobby G from East Village

All men (and women) are NOT created equal. This founding idea of our nation is, as Lincoln said, is a proposition -- something to aspire to -- like the aspiration of more perfect.

Nov. 12 2013 11:53 AM
Robert from NYC

I'd rather it were the Declaration of Independence.

Nov. 12 2013 11:52 AM
tickled from NYC

Regarding OneWorld's confirmed height...

I don't know why but i grinned from ear to ear to hear Brian Lehrer say "woo hoo, we win!"
- kinda that odd juxtaposition like hearing grandma woofin it in the CLE dog pound.
B, you just don't seem to me to be a woo hoo kinda guy.

You go BLehrer. You go. : )

Nov. 12 2013 11:49 AM
Darius from Bklyn

I love Ken Burns' work but there are PLENTY of people in the South that don't like Lincoln. I mean, he was the leader of the "War of Northern Aggression," according to some corners of the South.

Nov. 12 2013 11:49 AM

"What you watch is it all come together." What odd expression

Nov. 12 2013 11:49 AM

Is it me or has the GOP collectively thrown "of the people, by the people, for the people" out as a guiding principle of our republic?

Nov. 12 2013 08:44 AM

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