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96-Year-Old Grandmother Recites Gettysburg Address from Memory

She learned it in 7th grade and 83 years later she still knows it by heart!

Paula Bolyard


November 19, 2013 - 7:58 am
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Last night I was searching YouTube for a video of someone interesting reciting the Gettysburg Address to post on a Facebook page I manage. I was hoping to find a recitation done by someone who would be non-controversial and could convey Lincoln’s message without irritating anyone’s sensitive political nerves. (As it turns out, that’s a rather tall order).

I figured YouTube would be overflowing with videos of  school children reciting Lincoln’s famous speech, which he delivered 150 years ago today. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for school children to memorize it. I made my kids learn it as part of their homeschooling education and I figured it was still common for children to memorize it. (One son was very glad we did this when he was asked to recite it in a college interview!) Unfortunately — and much to my surprise — there aren’t nearly as many videos of children reciting the Gettysburg Address as I expected to find online. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum made a valiant attempt, creating walk-up videos of people reciting the speech in honor of the 150th anniversary, but sadly, many of the children and adults who participated struggled to even read the cue cards, so unfamiliar were they with Lincoln’s words.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon an absolute gem that restored my faith in Western Civilization (at least for today). The video shows Clara, a 96-year old grandmother and resident of Willow Falls Senior Living Community in Crest Hill, Illinois, reciting the Gettysburg Address from memory. The video’s description simply says:

Clara memorized the Gettysburg address in 7th grade…83 years later she still knows it by heart.

I predict this will be more inspiring than all of the professionally produced Gettysburg Address videos you’ll see today! Maybe it will inspire you to learn it yourself if you don’t already know it and hopefully, you’ll teach it to your children. (Confession: I never memorized the speech until I learned it with my kids.)

Oh, and after a bit of searching, I did find some children reciting the speech. It turns out hundreds of Utah school children memorized the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 150th anniversary.  Way to go, Utah!

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In addition to writing for PJ Tatler and PJ Lifestyle, Paula also writes for Ohio Conservative Review,. She is co-author of a new Ebook called, Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children’s Future. Paula describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third. She is also a member of the Wayne County Ohio Executive Committee.

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“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.” Abraham Lincoln;cc=lincoln;type=simple;rgn=div1;q1=nation%20under%20god;singlegenre=All;view=text;subview=detail;sort=occur;idno=lincoln7;node=lincoln7%3A40

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