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GettyReady challenge: memorize the Gettysburg Address for its 150th anniversary

President Lincoln delivering his short but powerful Gettysburg Address
President Lincoln delivering his short but powerful Gettysburg Address
photo by roosac's photostream via

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and the group GettyReady are issuing a challenge to all Americans in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 2013. The proposed goal is to memorize the 272 words of the Gettysburg Address. This famous speech was given on November 19, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln during the dedication ceremonies of a cemetery for Union soldiers near the battlegrounds of Gettysburg, one of the decisive battles of the Civil War. Lasting only about three minutes, the Address has come to be regarded as one of the most powerful and poignant speeches ever given. The ten thousand soldiers who fell during the three-day battle were memorialized by a president who encouraged his listeners to resolve that "they shall not have died in vain"., and that the nation have a "new birth of freedom".

Mr. Burns' latest documentary, "The Address", depicts the efforts of the boys in Vermont's Greenwood School, a day school for gifted boys with learning disabilities, to prepare for their yearly memorized recitation of the Gettysburg Address. Their message and challenge to America is "If we can do it, you can do it!"

The GettyReady website has many learning resources to help people of all ages memorize, understand and apply the principles contained in this short but important speech. There are book lists, lesson plans for all grades, teacher resource guides, apps, videos and websites available for access. In addition, discussion questions are included, with the hope of inspiring conversations in the school and in the home.