Gettysburg: The Courage of 272 Words

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This is one of the 1200 memorials which dot the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This battle memorial is along Cemetery Ridge, the site of Pickett's Charge, an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. (Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

This is one of the 1200 memorials which dot the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This battle memorial is along Cemetery Ridge, the site of Pickett’s Charge, an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. (Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The country commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address this week. Historians have discussed the many ramifications of the speech, both for the nation in 1863 and for the last 150 years.

But I think the courage required to deliver a speech to salve a wound of a magnitude not seen before or since, in a little over three minutes, will not be seen again.

I can speak from experience that brevity does not come easy, and in tense political situations, is nearly impossible. Politicians before and after Lincoln have shown how rarely eloquence and succinctness collide.

And while it would be folly to attempt to deliver a speech anywhere near the quality of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln has taught an important lesson that echoes loudly 150 years later.

One need not blather to inspire. If the message is important enough, it can stand alone. One only needs to ensure that the message is vital.

Leaders after Lincoln have tried entering the Pantheon of memorable speeches during pivotal times in history. Some have attained moments of greatness, but none have captured the magic for an entire speech.

But I wonder if a leader were to use brevity to focus on what’s truly important now, if they would find success? Could a modern leader take such a risk without punishment?

As a country, could we appreciate it for what it is? Could we trust a speech like that? Would we need more? If successful, could it inspire more?

Imagine what that could that mean for political discourse in this country.

Alas, we may never know.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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