New book -- "Lincoln at Gettysburg: the Words...

GARRY WILLS'

August 10, 1992

GARRY WILLS' new book -- "Lincoln at Gettysburg: the Words That Remade America" -- has renewed interest in the role that elegant language plays in political speech.

For Americans of a certain age, this recalls a 1950s parody of the address in "Eisenhowerese" by the writer and editor Oliver Jensen. President Dwight Eisenhower had a reputation for rambling, imprecise, cautious speeches:

"I haven't checked these figures but 87 years ago, I think it was, a number of individuals organized a governmental setup here in this country, I believe it covered certain Eastern areas, with this idea they were following up based on a sort of national independence arrangement and the program that every individual is just as good as every other individual. Well, now, of course, we are dealing with this big difference of opinion, civil disturbance you might say, although I don't like to appear to take sides or name any individuals, and the point is naturally to check up, by actual experience in the field, to see whether any governmental setup like the one I was mentioning has any validity and find out whether that dedication by those early individuals will pay off in lasting values and things of that kind.

"Well, here we are, at the scene where one of those disturbances between different sides got going. We want to pay our tribute to those loved ones, those departed individuals who made the supreme sacrifice here on the basis of their opinions about how this thing ought to be handled. And I would say this. It is absolutely in order to do this.

"But if you look at the over-all picture of this, we can't pay any tribute -- we can't sanctify this area, you might say -- we can't hallow according to whatever individual creeds or faiths or sort of religious outlooks are involved like I said about this particular area. It was those individuals themselves including the enlisted men, very brave individuals, who have given this religious character to the area. The way I see it, the rest of world will not remember any statements issued here but it will never forget how these men put their shoulders to the wheel and carried this idea down the fairway.

"Now frankly our job, the living individuals' job here, is to pick up the burden and sink the putt they made these big efforts here for. It is our job to get on with the assignment-- and from these deceased fine individuals to take extra inspiration, you could call it, for the same theories about the set-up for which they made such a big contribution. We have to make up our minds right here and now, as I see it, that they didn't put out all that blood, perspiration and -- well -- that they just didn't make a dry run here, and that all us of here, under God, that is, the God of our BTC choice, shall beef up this idea about freedom and liberty and those kinds of arrangements, and that government of all individuals, by all individuals and for the individuals shall not pass out of the world picture."

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