Words Matter 2011- Words That Change History

As promised, I am back again today with my response to the Day 2 Challenge Question posed by NAIWE in celebration of  Words Matter Week.  More information can be found by following the link below:

http://wordsmatter.naiwe.com/2011/03/08/words-matter-2011-day-2-blog-challenge/

The challenge question for today is :

Words can change history.What speech or document do you believe to be most important? Why?

I struggled with this for some time and just couldn’t seem to whittle it down to one choice. In the end I settled on two speeches given one hundred years apart by two individuals of both vastly dissimilar, yet oddly similar backgrounds and paths.

The first speech was that given by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – The Gettysburg Address.

The other is the Reverend King’s ” I Have a Dream” speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C on August 19, 1963.

Both speeches talked of honor and struggle, of a battle incomplete in the pursuit of equality and justice. Both speeches referred to those lost in the struggle and to the need to honor their sacrifice. While King echoed the words of Lincoln at times, Lincoln most assuredly possessed the uplifting spiritual tone that was such a commanding element of King’s oratory. Both men struggled to bring together a nation divided in a way that would heal and unite. Both died before their endeavors could be fully realized.

The most compelling thought that comes from each of their speeches – almost 150 years later for one and nearly 50 years later for the other- is that their words still resonate in today’s society. We still have inequality and we are still- in many ways- a nation divided. Most importantly, we still need to strive to do more for our fellow-man… and woman.

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