LAST month the University of Maryland College Park held a...

salmagundi

April 11, 1994

LAST month the University of Maryland College Park held a contest in which students were asked to rewrite Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," incorporating contemporary issues. The speeches had to be 272 words (the same number as Lincoln's). This year's winner was Teresa Shirlen, a senior at the University of Maryland College Park. Here is her entry:

"The American Address

"Tenscore and seventeen years ago, a grand nation was conceived and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal.

Sixscore and ten years ago, a great American addressed this nation on the division that threatened its existence.

"Thirty years ago, another great American stood in the "symbolic shadow" of the first and again addressed the nation on this division.

"Today I sadly bring you similar words.

"The first addressed a division by war. The second, a division created by law. Today, I speak on a division created by attitude.

"All are equally dangerous. All leave our country broken and bleeding. But, while war turned into peace and laws were amended, I do not see the reversal of disunity that thrives on prejudice in this nation.

"The cannons had to stop, someone had to win; the laws had to change, they were morally wrong; but who will step forward to change the personal ignorance that causes confusion in a new generation -- a generation who is told to respect everyone, but when searching for role models demonstrating this command, can find so few? When can we join diversity to unity? When can we begin to learn from each other about that which makes us different? When can we mark a day in history as the day we began to appreciate our fellow citizens and live without preconceived notions and wrongful fears?

"This can only be born in each person's heart. No gun can force it, no law can change it, but each person must examine themselves (sic) and choose to replace the hatred and division with fairness and love for all people."

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