Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A Gettysburg Address for today

A Philly area high school student, the winner of a Gettysburg Address contest, offers words for the nation and world to live by.

A Gettysburg Address for today

Re-enactors John Voehl and his wife, Pamela Voehl, portray President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln as they listen to the benediction during the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 in Soldiers´ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. (AP Photo/The Evening Sun, Clare Becker)
Re-enactors John Voehl and his wife, Pamela Voehl, portray President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln as they listen to the benediction during the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 in Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. (AP Photo/The Evening Sun, Clare Becker)

This might make you feel better.

At a time of fractured Democracy and distrust of government that often leads to feelings of hopelessness and cynicism, an Upper Dublin High School student and winner of a statewide speech contest offers words of wisdom for the state, nation and world to live by.

Upper Darby High School 11th-grader Lauren Pyfer delivered her award-winning speech during ceremonies in Gettysburg Tuesday marking the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

The contest called for a contemporary speech reflecting Lincoln themes in as many words (270) or less.Here's what Lauren wrote.

"Global Address

Our Founding Fathers planted a durable seed for a nation with incredible potential—a nation that has and will thrive through the test of time.The genetics of this seed remain unchanged, comprised of values providing equality, fairness, and opportunity for every individual. The soil and landscape for this seed will evolve. It is up to each and every one of us now, not only as citizens of our fifty states, but as citizens of the world, to nurture and preserve the rights of humanity, equality, and freedom across all nations.

Our citizens have sacrificed their lives throughout the world to protect our freedom, and preserve human and economic harmony. Let’s not forget their sacrifices. Let’s open our arms to our heroes and support them and their families, emotionally and economically, so they can reenter society with dignity and with pride.

Always keep in mind, that our landscape is global. Science and technology have advanced knowledge, communication, and tools, including weapons. Protecting one nation requires keeping the world in balance. It is impossible for one country to close its doors to other countries and still thrive.

The seed of liberty planted by our Founding Fathers deserves great care from each of us. Expect liberty and fairness for yourselves, and dedicate yourself to promoting these values for others. Intentions are good, but actions are lasting.

My personal appeal to all of you: acknowledge and respect the contributions of others and hold yourself accountable to make this world a world that would have fulfilled the vision of President Lincoln as we commemorate today, the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address."

Quite a message, eh?

Lauren Pyfer won a college scholarship for it: a $5,000 cash scholarship plus one-year tuitiion to any of the 14 state universities. The contest, "In Lincoln's Footsteps," had multiple sponsors. You can read about it here. The honorary co-chairs were Gov. Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett.

I share this with you as an example of good things that happen in our state, and in our public schools. And in the hope that it might make you feel better.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected