‘Silly Remarks’ at Gettysburg
I don’t know what they do today in public schools, but back in the Pleistocene when I studied Latin, trigonometry and the classics (or pretended to anyway), they made us all memorize and perform Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Not sure about classroom recitals these days, maybe students memorize Jay Z lyrics or lines from Quentin Tarantino movies. Perhaps they just Tweet and send Instagrams, and the teacher retweets.
Anyway, 150 years ago a Gettysburg newspaper (see image) characterized Lincoln’s address as a compilation of “silly remarks.”
The Patriot & Union devoted all of one paragraph to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of.”
On the cusp of the speech’s 150th anniversary, the newspaper — now called the Patriot-News — this week issued an apology, which read in part:
“Our predecessors, perhaps under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time, called President Lincoln’s words ‘silly remarks,’ deserving ‘a veil of oblivion,’ apparently believing it an indifferent and altogether ordinary message, unremarkable in eloquence and uninspiring in its brevity.”
The “strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time” is one of the great reasons I became a journalist. Not sure what journalists drink today, maybe Obamaian Kool-Aid. But pardon my silly remark, please.