Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” radically reinterpreted the Declaration of Independence.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech riffed on Lincoln’s lofty language.
And Ronald Reagan drafted King’s dream of a country where character outweighs color into an argument against affirmative action.
There are certain speeches, songs, books, letters, laws, and axioms that Americans appreciate enough to argue about, says religion scholar Stephen Prothero.
Like the Declaration of Independence, this almost consecrated canon inspires endless commentary about what it means to be American — and what “America” means.