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To Gettysburg, Lincoln's 'Address' not just a speech

Town to commemorate president's famous remarks 155 years later


It was four months since the smoke cleared from Pickett’s Charge, perhaps the most tragic assault in the four-year American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg and stepped off the train platform into a town ravaged by war. The 16th president knew the gravity, and the opportunity, of the next day.

Invited to deliver just “a few appropriate remarks” after the day’s main speaker, Lincoln so poetically rose from his seat and delivered what would become one of the most famous speeches in world history. Decades later, school children around the world still memorize and recite his “Gettysburg Address.”

But for a town that was still in the midst of war’s aftermath – where 22,500 dead and wounded were treated in the months following the epic battle – Lincoln’s short but monumental visit turned Gettysburg from a place of tragedy into a symbol of hope and re-unification.

Lincoln’s 272-words, delivered on Nov. 19, 1863, in a rain-soaked cemetery left a legacy not only for the small Pennsylvania town, but for Lincoln himself, whose “Four score and seven years ago …” is remembered by generations thereafter and as a reminder of our continuing work as a country.

Gettysburg marks the occasion every year with a Dedication Day ceremony in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery – a way to not only commemorate Lincoln speech, but bring modern-day relevance to the history that made Gettysburg one of America’s most iconic destinations. The event will be held on Monday, Nov. 19, at 10:30 a.m.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Janet Morgan Riggs, President of Gettysburg College, joined by other members of the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania in commemorating the day, highlighted by a reciting of the Gettysburg Address by nationally renowned Lincoln presenter George Buss.

Two days prior, on Saturday, Nov. 17, Gettysburg will pay tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in Gettysburg with its annual Remembrance Day – commemorated with a parade and illumination in the national cemetery. The parade, which begins at 1 p.m., features thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers marching through Downtown Gettysburg. Later that evening, at 5:30 p.m., candles are lit around the cemetery’s 3,500 gravesites in honor of the sacrifice made during the Battle of Gettysburg.

There are plenty of living history demonstrations and encampments scheduled throughout the day. For more information, including a full calendar of events, visit

Destination Gettysburg, the official destination marketing organization, markets Gettysburg – Adams County as a premier travel destination, producing a positive economic impact.



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