1998 Mount Rushmore
International Writing Contest
Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln:
Presidents with Visions for America

If they could speak today,
what might they say?

First Prize: Adult Prose
John Edward Hempe
Rapid City, South Dakota
Lincoln: The Reunion

This place in South Dakota. It's so far from the great battlefield at Gettysburg. This time, 135 years since the bloody clash. Months after the battle, I wrote a two-minute speech. It somehow became immortal. It ended:

'this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.'

And so it is. The union I so desperately strove to preserve is stronger than ever today. The new birth of freedom exists. I see it in the faces of the people who come here.

For nearly 60 years, I have rested here in the presence of the noblest men to ever lead this great nation. I have always been and will always be humble and proud.