155 years ago, on November 19, 1863, Lincoln delivered what has become his most famous address. He was not the main speaker and his remarks lasted all but two minutes. However, what he said captured the hearts and minds of Americans then, as well as serving as a reminder for us today. To understand its significance, we must be reminded about how strategic the battle of Gettysburg was and why Lincoln spoke on the battlefield only four months later. Lincoln’s remarks can also remind us of our Pilgrim roots as a nation and why we must continue to keep them alive.
In Tennessee there is a place called Pall Mall in Fentress County. The valley below is called the Valley of the Three Forks in the Wolf (the Wolf river forks into three branches at that point). This place is literally in the middle of nowhere. Like the Bible hero David who slew lions and bears in the wilderness long before he ever appeared on the scene to publicly kill Goliath, Alvin would grow up as the best marksman in the wilderness shooting turkeys and ducks; but God had a wider plan for him 100 years ago this month.
Alvin’s father died on Christmas day, 1911 on his 30th wedding anniversary when Alvin was 24 years old. Alvin then took full responsibility to provide for his mother and eight younger brothers and sisters. His two older brothers had already left home. Little did anyone know, especially Alvin, that he would end up being the most decorated war hero of World War I!