Tuesday, October 08, 2002

ICEL takes on great orations in history

In case you were wondering exactly what’s wrong with making language more “accessible”:

The Gettysburg Speech (by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy)

About 90 years ago, our grandparents founded a new country: thought of in terms of liberty, and guided by the ideal that all people are created equal.

Now we are fighting a violent civil war, trying to ensure that that country, and any country thought of and guided that way, can last a long time. We are meeting on one of the war’s bloody battlefields.

We have come to memorialize some of the ground as graves for those who died for their country. It is good to do this.

But, in a bigger sense, we can’t dedicate — we can’t make sacred — we can’t bless — the fields. The living and dead soldiers who fought here already did that, and we can’t change it. The world won’t hear or remember today’s speeches but it can’t forget what happened.

Instead, we who are still alive must finish what those who died were starting. We need to keep trying to complete the job; so that these special dead help us increase our commitment to the cause to which they were unselfishly committed — that we seriously promise that these dead won’t have died in vain — that this country will renew its freedom — and that government for the people’s benefit, chosen by the people, and made up of the people won’t disappear.


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