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Remembering Nov. 1863 & 1963

Twice a year our country pays its respect to the men and women who have fought and died defending our nation. U.S. flags are placed beside tombstones and veterans proudly parade down flag-lined city streets. Politicians give speeches thanking veterans for their service. But it is the address given by President Lincoln on Nov. 19, 1863 in dedicating a national cemetery in Gettysburg Pa. that students study and in the past, memorized. Lincoln said that few would remember his words, but the truth is, as Senator Charles Sumner said in 1865, "The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech." What is it about Lincoln's words that bring on a sense of reverence? Might it be the challenge for us, "the living," even today in 2013 to strive for and ensure that our government is "of the people, by the people and for the people," fulfilling the Founding Father's proposition that all men are created equal.

FDC Image Stamp Battle of Gettysburg

FDC Image Stamp Gettysburg Address

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One hundred years later, another President spoke to a small crowd of citizens gathered in the rain. Like Lincoln's Address, citizens remember President Kennedy's 1961 inaugural challenge to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," but they quickly forgot the words of his last public address given in Ft. Worth, TX on November 22, 1963. In the midst of the Cold War, Kennedy's administration had weathered many challenges, and he described the role of our nation, as "the keystone in the arch of freedom." Ask students to define the term keystone and compare the symbolism of the U.S. as a keystone of freedom in 1963 to 2013. Does the U.S. still hold the Arch of Freedom together for other nations and people who wish to immigrate to our shores? For lessons, activities and a photo timeline of that day, go to

FDC Image Stamp JFK

Be sure to stop by the
FDC Lessons booth –

TCSS Convention in San Antonio,
NCSS Convention in Saint Louis,
TSHA Convention in Dallas, Austin

And "Dig for History."

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