Golden Eagle football players to recite Gettysburg Address

As a highlight of community day at Tyrone Area High School, this Friday, November 17, three Golden Eagle athletes will recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address over the public address system during the morning announcements at 8:15 a.m.
Because they hold membership in Tyrone High’s 94-year-old speech team, football players Russell Beck, Joshua Bradley and Matthew Murray will perform Lincoln’s masterpiece for Tyrone students to commemorate the 143rd anniversary of the Civil War president’s appearance in Gettysburg at 2 p.m. on November 19, 1863.
Tyrone High speech coach Richard Merryman provided these observations about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, derived from Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln. Observed Merryman, “Poet Carl Sandburg reminds us that Lincoln received the invitation to speak at Gettysburg on November 2, 1863. Contrary to popular opinion that he scribbled the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope while riding the train from Washington to Gettysburg, Lincoln agonized for days about what he would say at that Pennsylvania battlefield, where 50,000 American soldiers had lost their lives on the first three days of July 1863.
Continued Sandburg, “On his way to speak at Gettysburg on the afternoon of November 19, 1863, Lincoln joked that he felt like that Illinois man condemned to hang who uttered these words to a crowd rushing to witness the hanging – ‘Boys, you need not be in such a hurry to rush ahead, there won’t be any fun until I get there’”. Carl Sandburg also reported that when Lincoln boarded the train to travel from Washington to Gettysburg, his son Tad lay critically ill with his hysterical wife Mary Todd Lincoln grieving by his bedside. Thus Lincoln left serious family problems behind in Washington on his journey to Gettysburg.
Once on the platform in Gettysburg, Lincoln took less than five minutes to deliver his 272 word address. Even more miraculously, out of those 272 words, 200 of the words were simple, one-syllable terms. During Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech, the audience of 30,000 or more people interrupted him six times with applause.
Before Lincoln spoke from Gettysburg at 2 p.m. on November 19, 1863, the main speaker for the cemetery dedication, Edward Everett of Harvard, had delivered a two-hour patriotic speech, commencing at noon and concluding at 2 p.m. from the same Gettysburg platform whereon the president would speak. The day after Lincoln’s November 19, 1863 Gettysburg Address, Mr. Everett mailed the president a note which shared these sentiments, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”
Concluded Merryman, “On Community Day in the Tyrone schools this Friday, November 17, for two reasons, we take pride that three Golden Eagle football players from our 94-year-old speech team will deliver Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. First, we greatly appreciate the fact that football coach John Franco and Tyrone Athletic Director Thomas Coleman encourage Tyrone Athletes to expand their horizons beyond the realm of sports into the larger arenas of speech, history and government. Secondly, we recognize that under the broad-minded influence of people like A.D. Coleman, Tyrone athletes on the speech team fulfill their civic duty to once again re-enact Lincoln’s immortal words on the 143rd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. More than any other document in American history, Pulitzer Prize author Gary Wills asserts that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address ‘gave new life and practical significance to the Declaration of Independence and to the United States Constitution not just for a few chosen citizens, but for all folks in this land of the free and home of the brave.’”