By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
My favorite item of the day, without question, is on page one of USA Today, below the fold. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is asking us to "pack neatly." They want us to fold our clothing and coil our electronic plug-in wires. The official advice: "Think layers. One layer of clothes, one layer of electronics." I admit I'm tired (Springsteen concert in Boston last night) but do these people travel?
Tonight we'll take a look at the new tenor of the campaign trail, the situation in Bangladesh, in Iraq, and the effect the stagehands' strike is having on the Broadway season. Ann Curry will be here to follow up on her great reporting last week, and we'll take a look at a notable anniversary in the U.K.
I hope you all had a good weekend, and welcome back for another week. We hope to see you for tonight's broadcast.
From Andy Franklin, here is a great and timely reminder:
Seven Score and Four Years Ago…
…an American president visited the site of one of this country's bloodiest battles and delivered a short speech – about three minutes in duration, including five interruptions for applause. It was so short, in fact, that many in the crowd of some 15,000 people missed it entirely. And even those who actually heard it may not have realized that they had just witnessed one of the truly great, transcendent pieces of oratory in human history.
The New York Times, November 20, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln,
November 8, 1863;
eleven days before delivering
the Gettysburg Address.
Photograph by Alexander Gardner.
The president was Abraham Lincoln, the battlefield was Gettysburg, and the date was November 19, 1963 – 144 years ago today. For all those who despair the cautious, often impoverished rhetoric of modern American politics, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is well worth revisiting. The speech did far more than simply dedicate a battlefield. As historian Garry Wills has pointed out, the president managed in just a few well-chosen words to assign a higher purpose to the Civil War then still underway, and actually redefine the mission of the "new nation" which that war sought to preserve. Here is what Lincoln said that day:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
-- President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863
There is a wealth of information and analysis about the Gettysburg Address on the Web. You can see Lincoln's drafts of the speech on the Library of Congress site. There is a fascinating account of what appear to be newly-discovered photographs of Lincoln at Gettysburg. And someone's even come up with a sadly funny Power Point version of the Lincoln's address that reminds us just how far we've fallen in 144 years.