By KRISTIN TATE
Today President Obama left out the words “under God” in his recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Obama gave the address on a YouTube video for filmmaker Ken Burns’ website. Burns has filmed all living presidents, as well as various celebrities, reciting the Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln initially gave the famous speech 150 years ago, in 1963. When Lincoln delivered the speech, he did use the words “under God.” This fact is widely accepted by historians.
Historian William E. Barton said, “Every stenographic report, good, bad and indifferent, says ‘that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.’ There was no common source from which all the reporters could have obtained those words but from Lincoln’s own lips at the time of delivery.”
There are five handwritten drafts of the address, three of which include the words “under God.”
Obama chose to read the Nicolay copy. He recited:
It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
It is unclear why President Obama chose that version, since the preferred version listed on Ken Burn’s website is the Bliss Copy. The Bliss copy does include the words “under God.”
Every other celebrity and president who has given the address said the words “under God.” President Obama is the only individual to leave these words out.