Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . .

On a sunny day in November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln began to speak. Lincoln had traveled from Washington to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to dedicate a cemetery for soldiers. In his speech he paid tribute to the soldiers who had died to uphold America's ideals of freedom and equality.

At that time the United States was fighting the terrible Civil War. The Northern states of the Union battled to keep the Southern states from splitting apart and forming a separate country. As President, Lincoln kept the Union together. During the war he also freed the slaves.

For those two great accomplishments - preserving the Union and ending slavery - the Lincoln Memorial honors our sixteenth President. The building looks like a temple in ancient Greece, where democracy began. Around the outside are 36 columns, one for each state when Lincoln was President. Broad stone steps lead up to a 19-foot-tall statue of the Great Emancipator, as Lincoln was called. You can read the words of the Gettysburg Address on one wall.

One hundred years after Lincoln freed the slaves, another great leader came to Washington to speak to a large crowd. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called on all Americans to turn our nation's ideals into reality for everyone:

I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Try This

Read more about Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Then imagine that they could talk with each other. What do you think they'd say? With a friend, act out this conversation.