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!