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Utahns memorize Gettysburg Address for 150th anniversary

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SALT LAKE CITY — President Abraham Lincoln stood on a battlefield and gave a short speech that changed the country 150 years ago Tuesday.

Now children across Utah are studying, memorizing and sharing the Gettysburg Address so that they, and America, will never forget those inspired words.

The speech is 272 words. It takes between 2 and 3 minutes to recite, and it has been the focus of study for Utah students throughout the school year.

The Davis School District produced a video earlier this year when students still had a ways to go to learn the history of it. Some students said things like, "I think it was Thomas Jefferson?" or "I've heard about it; I'm not sure if it's true." Another questioned whether it took place in Massachusetts or California.

Now many students, like some sixth graders at Forbes Elementary in American Fork and others at Neil Armstrong Academy can recite the whole thing.

"Abraham Lincoln, he didn't believe in slavery," said fifth grader Trinity Speredon. "He thought all men were created equal. So, he wanted to make a point."

This is the dream being fulfilled of GettyReady co-founder John Adams.

"If you take effort, anything you commit to memory stays with you. And at important moments of decision making or times of reflection, those things you've committed to your mind, they are very powerful and stay with you," he said.


All the members of his law firm, Ray Quinney and Nebeker, are memorizing the speech. So are countless other people across Utah and the nation, to prepare for this spring's Ken Burns documentary on the Gettysburg Address.

Adams said it's not just about the students learning it this year, it's about living it always.

"Live the principles, the uniting and guiding principles of equality, freedom, and the importance of government of the people by the people and for the people," he said.

Contributing: Jed Boal


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