Joshua Hamel is a junior at Schaeffer Academy in Rochester, Minnesota. He is very interested in the technology of the Civil War, and he created a documentary for History Day exploring the effects of the telegraph on the Civil War. He is eager to learn more about and explore Gettysburg on the trip.
“I look forward to learning more about the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment (thrilled to retrace their steps) and the rest of the Battle of Gettysburg if I am selected to accompany the Minnesota delegation to the 150th anniversary commemoration" - Joshua Hamel
Dear President Lincoln, One hundred fifty years ago, you were asked to give a simple speech to honor the fallen of the Union. However, you did more, amplifying your speech and changing America’s view of the Civil War. With broad perspective, you defined the vast conflict within this country not as a sectional conflict, but as a test of democracy that would change the course of history: not only America’s, but also the world’s! During the Revolutionary War, the eyes of Europe were fixed upon America, knowing that that war would prove whether democracy could conquer the tyranny of absolute government. Similarly, you recognized and expressed in your speech that the Civil War was another test of democracy, one that would prove its ability to conquer the opposite extreme that rises from within: anarchy. Thankfully, the brave men of the Union did dedicate themselves to the great task of saving our country, and as you predicted, the nation received “a new birth of freedom.” You personally helped permanently free all American slaves, and freedom marched onwards even after your death. Within five years, constitutional amendments gave all African Americans citizenship and the right to vote, and in fifty more years women could vote too. The people of the United States also dedicated themselves to spreading democracy to other nations. Its example inspired Europe to create more democracies, and twice the US fought nobly alongside their men when absolutist regimes threatened to destroy them. The history of this nation is an ongoing test. Sometimes we have blundered, sometimes we have schemed, and sometimes we have fought the very ideals that gave this country being. But we have not fallen. I deeply hope that my generation will have the courage and conviction needed to uphold this government in the tests to come.
"I look forward to learning more about the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment (thrilled to retrace their steps) and the rest of the Battle of Gettysburg if I am selected to accompany the Minnesota delegation to the 150th anniversary commemoration"
- Joshua Hamel -
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—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.