Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

On February 12, Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday, I began stitching "272 Words," a sampler featuring the full text of Gettysburg Address. Because this is Lincoln's bicentennial year, it seemed logical to begin the sampler on the President's birthday. But when considering a completion date I chose July 4th largely because Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays.

Until a few weeks ago, I hadn't realized the double significance of July 4th as a completion date, compliments of President Lincoln himself. If one does the arithmetic, Mr. Lincoln's famous intro, "Four score and seven years ago," refers to the events of July 4, of 1776.

Today I present photos of the unframed piece. My stitching frame is too small to stretch the entire length and breadth of the sampler. Therefore, with your patience, I present closes-ups of the sampler from various angles. In August I'll publish a photo essay of "272 Words," after it is professionally stretched and framed. A frame will bring the sampler to life.

The final photo shows the sampler, minutes after it was completed yesterday -- 143 days after the first stitch in February. It seemed to me, that a ray of sun beamed onto the work table at the moment the linen was liberated from its frame. I quickly snapped the photo, not noticing the wrinkled linen after months of handling, or the funny way it draped across the table. It was finished. Stitchers know that feeling of elation -- the last stitch is as exciting as the first.

Thank you for joining me on this July 4th, as we celebrate our nation's 233rd birthday. It has been an honor spending these last few months with you, and I look forward to our conversations during the coming months.

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The Gettysburg Address, by President Abraham Lincoln

"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."

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live."

"It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this."

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

"The world will little note, nor long remember what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us . . . "

". . . that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom . . . "

. . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people . . . "

. . . shall not perish from the earth."


~ Wrought by Elizabeth C. Gorski of New York City
on July 4, 2009 ~