You Can’t Ever Tell

You can’t ever be sure what’s the thing that will last… it seems you only know what is really good with time. Just look at the books everyone was raving about 100 years ago and you probably won’t even recognize any of the titles.

And what about Lincoln and his most famous speech of all time?


On 19th November 1863, Abraham Lincoln got up in front of about 15,000 people and delivered the Gettysburg Address, which begins, “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.” Lincoln’s last line, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

It was a foggy, cold morning. As Writer’s Almanac describes it: “Lincoln arrived at the new national cemetery in Gettysburg at about 10 a.m. Around noon, the sun broke out as the crowds gathered on a hill overlooking the battlefield. A military band played, a local preacher offered a long prayer, and the headlining orator, Edward Everett, spoke for more than two hours. When Everett was finished, Lincoln got up and pulled his speech from his coat pocket. It consisted of 10 sentences, a total of 272 words. The audience was distracted by a photographer setting up his camera, and by the

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time Lincoln had finished his speech and sat down the audience didn’t even realize he had spoken.”

A 320-page book on Lincoln’s 272-word speech was published in 2006 called, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America. Words that remade America. And at the time no one even noticed. Which only goes to prove we most of the time don’t really know what on earth we’re talking about when we say what’s what and who’s who. And what about that poor guy who went on for 2 hours. Who now remembers anything of what he was saying? Oh dear.

(Note on the image: there is no actual photo of Lincoln giving his speech because, of course, it was over before the photographer had time to take one.)



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2 Responses to “You Can’t Ever Tell”

  1. Reuben

    What a powerful word on how often the most important moments are overlooked in their time. I immediately drew a connection to your line from the JSB chapter, “He’s Here”:

    “… In the darkness He came.”

    God himself came and went unnoticed by many. And remade us all.


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