Gettysburg Address Enrichment Activities
In the "Gettysburg Address," Lincoln predicted that the world would forget his speech but would "never forget" the importance of the soldiers' actions in the Battle of Gettysburg. Find the sentence in the text in which Lincoln makes this prediction. Why do you think Lincoln made this statement? The first part of Lincoln's prediction turned out to be incorrect; the world has remembered his speech. But what about the second part of the prediction? Has the world also continued to remember the meaning of the soldiers' fight? What do you think that meaning is? Make some notes and then discuss Lincoln's prediction with your classmates.
The Power of Parallel Structure
Lincoln uses parallel structure throughout his address.
a. Visit the following website to learn more about what parallel structure is and why a speaker or writer might use it: http://www.union.edu/RESOURCES/LANGWRIT/WRITING/Help/parallel.html.
Did you notice that this website contains examples of parallel structure in the Declaration of Independence, a document to which Lincoln alludes repeatedly in the Gettysburg address? Look at these examples and then look back at the Gettysburg Address. What similarities do you see?
b. On August 28, 1963, during the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. King used parallel structure masterfully in his speeches. In this speech, King also alludes to both the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence, continuing an historical conversation that Lincoln advanced one hundred years before. Visit the following website to watch the video and see the text of King's speech. Listen and look for examples of parallel structure.
When you listened to the speech, did you notice the rhythm created by King's use of parallel structure? In both style and content, what similarities do you see between King's speech and Lincoln's speech? What differences do you notice?
"The Great Task Remaining Before Us"
Lincoln stated: "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…" What is this "unfinished work" and this "great task remaining before us" to which Lincoln refers? From your perspective, has this "unfinished work" been completed? Or do you think we continue to have a "great task remaining before us" even today? Write down your thoughts or discuss these questions with friends.