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Volume 68, Issue 105, Thursday, February 27, 2003

News

Lecture tells of national struggle through Civil War, 9/11 memorial

By Matt Dulin
The Daily Cougar

When the nation took a pause last year and remembered 9/11, many memorial services didnit afford new words of comfort. Instead, leaders turned to former President Lincolnis Gettysburg Address to provide some solace to the national grief.

The text of that speech, visiting lecturer Michael Zuckert says, wasnit meant necessarily to heal.


Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar
University of Notre Dame professor Michael Zuckert said the Gettysburg Address issued a challenge at its first delivery and does so today in memory of 9/11.

"It was meant to encourage perseverance in the war," he said at a Wednesday presentation entitled "Dead-ication: Lincoln and Gettysburg, Gettysburg and 9/11" at the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom.

In the conclusion of his lecture, Zuckert admonished the United States for its response to the loss experienced in 9/11 ­ that is, shoring up defensive capabilities. A dedicated professor of political science at Notre Dame, Zuckert cited the current military buildup and the new Department of Homeland Security as extensions of this push for defense.

"It is not enough for the government to simply provide defense to fulfill its dedication to the ideal ‘government by the people, for the people,i" Zuckert said.

"Those who perished (in 9/11) will not have in vain if we renew our commitment to American liberal democracy. We need to rethink the meaning of our American principles in the perspective of the world at large," he said.

He noted that presenting the piece in memorial of 9/11 has some disparity compared to its Civil War context, but that it still conveyed at least one broad message that Americans were willing to hear: "It instilled our resolve to endure."

Through an analysis of the address as it was given in 1863 to memorialize the lives lost in the battle of Gettysburg, Zuckert said the speech served more as a call to return to "true" American ideals.

"It issued a challenge … to bring forth something new and free," he said, noting how the Civil War ended with a kind of rebirthing of the United States. On a political level, this included reform of federalism, the institution that determines the power of the states.

He also described the circumstances under which Lincoln penned the short address ­ which, he added during an open forum afterward, was not written on a train ride to Gettysburg.

"It was as though the Civil War was a test of whether or not this new nation, this ideal, was even possible to attain or keep. It was a test of humanity," Zuckert said.

He likened the speechis connotations of birth ­ a nation "brought forth" and "conceived" in liberty ­ to what he called a "natural artifact," a product of human imagination and human nature. Preserving that creation, he said, is what the Gettysburg Address calls for Americans to dedicate themselves to.

Zuckert came at the invitation of The Honors College; the James A. and Isabel M. Elkins Leadership Endowment f, which Dean Ted Estess says is aimed at "developing and reflecting on leadership," funded his visit.
 

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