On the day marking the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Edward Everett delivered a long speech recounting the conflict. Everett, a noted orator, spoke in image-filled sentences meant both to inform and dazzle. He did. Then President Lincoln took the podium and delivered his now famous address. Like Everett, he had powerful imagery. Unlike Everett, his speech was about four minutes.
Which text is remembered? The one of which the entirety was printed in the newspaper. The point is — one cannot judge a man’s work by the way he chooses his words. One must be judged by actions and deeds.
Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., has long been an effective representative. His votes, not his word choice, will outlive his term. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a longtime choice of voters, also has made a lot of speeches. (I particularly remember one praising the good works of Osama bin Laden in building schools in Iraq). Of the two, Dicks’ actions will be long remembered for the effect he had on his constituents; Murray’s speech has been long forgotten by most.
Lincoln, who died the most hated man in America, will be remembered for his actions toward equality for all. Everett is a mere footnote in history.
Action or oratory? Let history decide.
Chuck “C.W.” Coatney