Gettysburg Address-150 Years Later

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Gettysburg Address – 150 Years Later

Written by Rick Stambaugh of FGGAM News

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here 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 that these dead shall not have died in vain – that 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 the earth.

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U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Civil War historian James McPherson are scheduled to speak today, (Tuesday), to mark the 150th anniversary of the famous address. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is also scheduled to deliver remarks at the ceremony. President Obama was invited to the event but has declined, which I find odd considering he claims himself so much in line with former President Lincoln and since this is such a celebratory occasion this year. Although, surprisingly, former President Rutherford B. Hayes is the last sittingpresident to attend the annual event.

150 years ago today, on the Civil War battlefield where President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech that symbolized his presidency and the honored the sacrifices made by both Union and Confederate forces, Americans are gathering to ponder what the Gettysburg Address has meant to the nation. It falls near to the end of a momentous year for the park, city and college that share the name Gettysburg. Officials are expecting ‘hundreds of thousands’ of visitors to take part in historical re-enactments and ceremonies.

First delivered nearly five months after the major battle, leaving an estimated 51,000 dead and many more wounded or missing, a re-enactment reading of President Lincoln’s address will be read to mark the anniversary. A wreath laying event at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery will occur this morning and a graveside salute to U.S. Colored Troops at noon followed by a tree planting ceremony in the afternoon. Visitors honoring the speech will include Tom Stack of Wilmington, Delaware who had an ancestor who fought and died at Gettysburg serving the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Regiment. “It was an incredible time, with incredible individuals, on both sides, really”, Stack said Monday.

The Patriot-News in nearby Harrisburg recently issued a retraction of a dismissive editorial about the speed published by its Civil War era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union. They state they regret an error of not seeing the speeches “momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance.” The ideals expressed in the speech were also not necessarily a reflection of reality. A few short years after the war, a separate cemetery for black Civil War veterans was created in Gettysburg since they were denied burial in the National Cemetery due to segregation policies according to a historical marker placed in 2003.

There is an annual Remembrance Day Parade in Gettysburg scheduled for Saturday which will feature Union and Confederate re-enactors who will lay wreaths at the portions of the battlefield that their represented units defended. An estimated 235,000 people came to Gettysburg this year around the battle’s anniversary in early July. The Nation Park Service states it is streaming today’s ceremony live to 90,000 colleges, schools, libraries and museums nationwide.

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