While driving down the freeway the other day, I was surprised to see one of the billboards sporting Abraham Lincoln’s face. Always happy to see Honest Abe, I decided to check out the website—GettyReady.com—to see why the 16th president’s face was smiling at me on my way to work and recommending me to go to this site.
And now, I recommend it to all of you.
It turns out the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is coming up next month on November 19th. On that day in 1863, seven score and ten years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave one of the greatest speeches in American history. In his speech, he not only paid tribute to soldiers who died in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War only months before, but he also spoke of uniting a country and progressing as a human race. In 272 words, Lincoln inspired a country, both in his own day and for generations to come.
Great, you may say, but what does all this have to do with teaching?
That’s where the Getty Ready program comes in. Getty Ready is a Utah-based program that’s encouraging children, parents, and teachers to learn, memorize, and apply the Gettysburg Address to their lives.
Memorize? You may ask. Who has time to memorize things anymore?
I know memorization in schools may seem old-fashioned and appear to hearken back to the days of one-room schoolhouses, but memorization is an essential part of learning and growing. If a student memorizes something the right way as opposed to simply reading it, think of how much more that text is going to mean to them. It will stick with them because they have internalized its meaning, not just words on a page. Even Elder Scott spoke a few conferences ago about the importance of memorizing scriptures, saying:
Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change.
If memorizing scriptures brings such support, just imagine how memorizing a seminal work like the Gettysburg Address will help our students gain an appreciation for words and language and the history of our country. As Lincoln so eloquently put it, our feeble words may not consecrate the ground of Gettysburg more than the men who fought and died on that field did, but with his words, we can “be dedicated…to the unfinished work which they who fought [there] have thus far so nobly advanced.”
So even if you’re not a teacher quite yet and don’t have students to whom you can teach the importance of memorizing, take it upon yourself to try out the power of memorization and Getty Ready to commemorate one of the greatest moments in American history with “an increased devotion.”