When Abraham Lincoln stood at Gettysburg, in the ceremony for dedicating the grounds for the burial of the thousands of Union soldiers, he pulled out all the Biblical stops — and I do intend the metaphor, which comes from playing the pipe organ, when you pull out all the stops and thus engage all the many ranks of pipes. “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground,” said the President. The men who died there, who struggled so bravely in the fight, have already done so, said he, “beyond our poor power to add or detract.” I am not as sure as I used to be about the purity of the Union cause, but I have walked slowly over the battlefield, and thought about so many men on each side, dying for what they believed was a just cause, and I have admired their courage, to the shedding of their last drop of blood.
In any case, what Lincoln did in his sentence was to increase the intensity with each verb. We can dedicate a plot of ground for a memorial to the graduates…
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