With the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the famous speech is once again in the news. Left uncovered is the importance of the speech’s declaration of legacy.


Some 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech that would not only define his presidency, but his legacy.

Young children — yet to fully comprehend the Civil War — try to memorize the short yet impactful speech.

It is the speech that comforted the nation as the Gettysburg grounds were soaked with bloodshed caused by the nation’s internal strife.

As the nation reflects on the simple yet substantial speech with public readings, classroom lessons and opinion pieces, the true importance of the speech is often lost.

The eloquent language, mystique of the serious president, brevity of the speech and tragedy of the Battle of Gettysburg are addressed, but what about Lincoln’s legacy?

The first line declares the legacy of the nation, laid out by our Founding Fathers.

Lincoln unites  both sides in grief and appreciation then concludes the speech with a new legacy:

“… 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.”

The nation’s situation was bleak. All may have been lost.

The nation could have been forever split.

The Confederates could have won, stripping hope for freedom in the South.

The mere existence of the country was called into question.

Lincoln was determined to ensure that the nation would unite with a new wave of freedom.

This became his legacy.

After his death, his legacy became reality.

Declaring his legacy subjected Lincoln to ridicule and a chance of public failure, but Lincoln proclaimed his legacy anyway.

The determination and passion of the steadfast president is astonishing and respectable.

Such declarations are not commonplace in today’s society.

Fear of public failure, lack of confidence and a shortage of commitment rob society of great legacies.

Learn a lesson from wise Lincoln — declare a legacy.

Live it. Share it.

The success of declaring a legacy may actually be quite surprising.

By Coral Christopher

Coral Christopher, editor-in-chief of MBU Timeline, is a senior majoring in public relations and communication studies with minors in political science and journalism. Christopher recently led the rebranding and launch of the new mbutimeline.mobap.edu site. When Christopher is not editing or writing, she interns for the University Communications office at Missouri Baptist University, keeping up with Washington, D.C., or pretending to be C.J. Cregg from “The West Wing.”