You know how there’s that moment in movies where they say the title, and you go, oh, that’s it! That’s the title! They’ll say something like “I can’t believe this Midnight Madness!” or “I sure am loving this Pulp Fiction!” or “Hey, just call me Citizen Kane!”
The title of Hallow This Ground comes not just from the Gettysburg Address, but from a specific visit to the Lincoln Memorial, where the Address is one of two Lincoln speeches engraved on the side walls of the memorial (the other is the Second Inaugural, which is maybe the best thing anyone’s ever written, on par with Joan Didion’s “In the Islands,” James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” and the bassline for “Billie Jean”). I was standing there, in the memorial, reading those words, and thought that’s it! that’s the title. And so it was.
The good folks at Indiana University Press have put up a preview of the title essay of the book, which is about another visit to DC, just a few days before Obama’s first inauguration. It features optimism, my father-in-law, temperatures in the single digits, and the Department of Agriculture. Bruce Springsteen might make an appearance.
If this makes you want to read the whole dang thing, then please avail yourself of IUP’s online store. There’s also an e-book version, but what will I sign when I visit your town?