In honor of women’s history month and International Women’s Day on March 8, I am setting aside our series about 2014 goals to reflect on a few of the women of Gettysburg and the role they played in the struggle for freedom and the aftermath of battle at Gettysburg. The sacrifices at Gettysburg by soldiers and citizens alike are part of a long continuum. In the words of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on November 19, 2013, the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg:
“Just as the battle that raged on these fields stands at the vortex of American history, Lincoln’s words stand at the vortex of our national consciousness. Hearing them, we are reminded of the sacrifice of so many for freedom. We are likewise reminded of our long journey, still on-going, to fulfill the fundamental proposition that indeed all men and women are created equal and deserve the full benefit of this freedom that has been purchased at such great price.”
These days we can’t help but be reminded of this continuing struggle for freedom as we follow the news from across the nation and the world. At Gettysburg National Military Park you can visit the special places where these stories took place and learn more about women like Margaret Palm, Elizabeth Thorn and Cornelia Hancock.
The struggles of these women and so many more who came before us are vitally important today. Tying events from the past together and recognizing their relevance as we live our lives is an important mission of the National Park Service. It’s all part of a continuing story. Few people have said it more poignantly and more succinctly than Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Gettysburg last November.
Here are her full remarks, which match the length of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Remarks, 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address
November 19, 2013
- One hundred fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln said, “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.”
- He was wrong.
- Just as the battle that raged on these fields stands at the vortex of American history, Lincoln’s words stand at the vortex of our national consciousness.
- Hearing them, we are reminded of the sacrifice of so many for freedom.
- We are likewise reminded of our long journey, still on-going, to fulfill the fundamental proposition that indeed all men and women are created equal and deserve the full benefit of this freedom that has been purchased at such great price.
- The steps on this journey are marked by eloquence.
- The patriot who regretted he had but one life to give for his country.
- The president who affirmed our resolve on a day that will live in infamy.
- The courageous woman whose simple “No” on an Alabama bus gave birth to choruses of “We Shall Overcome.”
- The passenger above another Pennsylvania field, who declared “Let’s Roll,” giving voice to a nation battered by terrorism.
- But no words are greater than those spoken here by a simple man, born in a log cabin, which not only saved the American union but also came to symbolize its greatest virtues of humility, honesty, and decency.
- His words, chiseled on the walls of his memorial, are likewise chiseled on our hearts.
- They tell us what it means to be an American.
- They call us to unfinished work, not just to win a war, but to continue to perfect our nation and a government that is truly “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Thanks to Brooke Diaz of the Gettysburg Foundation who designed the commemorative keepsake identity cards. Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation produced set of limited edition keepsake cards for the summer of 2013 as incentives for younger park visitors participating in Gettysburg’s Junior Ranger program. These cards are no longer available.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, March 6, 2014