The Gettysburg Address
Topics: Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, American Civil War, Battle of Gettysburg, High school, Pennsylvania / Pages: 7 (1712 words) / Published: Feb 6th, 2016

Speaking in front of a large audience is hard for many people. It’s even harder and scarier if you have one of many types of learning disabilities. Add to that, trying to practice, memorize, and recite a famous speech that was spoken a century and a half ago when typical word usage was of a different style than what it is commonly used today. This can make the task of learning the speech seem impossible. Ken Burns’ documentary “The Address” (PBS 2014) takes place at the Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont. Part of their curriculum every year, for students that have not already completed it, is to learn the history behind and recite the Gettysburg Address from memory to earn a school coin. It’s a difficult and daunting task for many of the …show more content…
The Gettysburg Address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on Thursday, November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. The Battle of Gettysburg had ended four and half months earlier. During this time period in history, the United States was divided between the North (Union) and the South (Confederates) because of slavery. The Battle of Gettysburg was at the peak of the Civil War in the early to mid 1860’s and it turned out to be the deadliest battle during the entire Civil War. It surprised many that the Gettysburg Address was so short, lasting only a couple of minutes. A Chicago newspaper “dismissed the speech as silly, flat, dish-watery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States”, yet the speech is now considered to be one of the greatest American speeches ever given. This film documents how some of the students have to battle their disabilities to complete the task. One of the students, Ian, explained how he felt: "When you are angry it is never good, but when you have grit and perseverance, you can get through stuff a lot more. This year I'm reciting the Gettysburg and that's huge for me. It just tells people that I'm not stupid. I'm not dumb, I'm not, like, worthless. Every kid that has been bullied excessively, their life is a battlefield and every time …show more content…
One example of this is their method of teaching sentence structure. In a public school, a teacher would write a sentence on the blackboard and then make slashes to break the sentence apart. At Greenwood, the small class size allows the teacher to work individually with the student and have them build the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address from chunks of phrases of printed out words. They organize them into the correct order. This helps the student not only learn sentence structure, but also the meaning of each of the words and the meaning of the sentence in its entirety. The students receive a great deal of help with the speech from specialists in Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, and the Psychology staff. In one scene, we see two boys Ethan and Benj as their speech therpaist Ms. Anne Bebko helps them along the way. Ethan recites nearly all of the speech and is very close to saying it completely. Benj can only get through a part of the speech and he needs more help and practice. Psych sessions help with academic problems and emotional development of the boys. During a particular psych session, Ian gets frustrated when he talks about how school is going for him socially. “Everyday of my freaken life … no because everyone’s ripped me apart in the past years … I can’t even fight for myself anymore because of I feel like I’m get beaten or something …. yea by other kids because

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