"[Delivering the Address] is a minefield for these kids [which involves] acts of courage which are embedded in this speech." (Ken Burns)
Lincoln Memorial courtesy http://blog.hubbardswim.com/the-gettysburg-address/.
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, written over 150 years ago, is arguably the most famous speech delivered by an American President (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2011/11/to-be-continued.html). Ken Burns' documentary follows Greenwood's students as they memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address.
The Greenwood School is a boarding school for fifty boys with learning disorders such as dyslexia and ADD. Vermont's Greenwood School has used the Address as a teaching tool for over 35 years. The boys spend a good chunk of time learning and memorizing the Address which they recite at a recital. Ken Burns has served as a judge at the recital for ten years.
Ken Burns says that due to their learning disorders,, "[Delivering the Address] is a minefield for these kids [which involves] acts of courage which are embedded in this speech."
Headmaster Stewart Miller points out that the Gettysburg Address is about "finding the inner strength to push through. What we talk about is grit -- setting a goal and sticking to it."
Lincoln's speech served to embolden the Union troops to keep fighting, to persevere against all odds after one of the worst defeats in the Civil War. His speech marked the turning point in the war. The Union regained its courage and fought on, achieving victory a year and a half later.
Greenwood's Headmaster explains that if you put something to memory, "you own it". Ken Burns' is challenging all Americans to learn or relearn the Address, which is inscribed on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The speech may be short, but it is powerful and gains more meaning with the passage of time. Like the Greenwood students, we can all learn something from this speech.
Greenwood School student recites Gettsyburg Address courtesy