GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — On the Civil War battlefield where President Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that symbolized his presidency and the sacrifices made by Union and Confederate forces, historians and everyday Americans are gathering to ponder what the Gettysburg Address has meant to the nation.
Civil War historian James McPherson and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are scheduled to speak Tuesday to mark the 150th anniversary of speech. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett also will deliver remarks.
It comes near the end of a momentous year for the park, city and college that share the name Gettysburg, as hundreds of thousands of visitors took part in historical re-enactments and ceremonies.
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address — first delivered here nearly five months after the major battle that left tens of thousands of men wounded, dead or missing — will be read by a re-enactor to mark the anniversary. The ceremony will begin in the morning with a wreath laying event at the Soldiers' National Cemetery. There also will be a graveside salute to U.S. Colored Troops at noon, and a tree planting ceremony in the afternoon.
Some visitors are honoring the speech as well as the men who fought in the battle. Tom Stack, 54, of Wilmington, Del., has an ancestor who fought and died at Gettysburg while serving with the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Regiment.
"It was an incredible time, with incredible individuals, on both sides, really," Stack said Monday.
The short oration, which begins, "Four score and seven years ago," was not immediately recognized as a towering literary achievement. Just last week The Patriot-News in nearby Harrisburg retracted a dismissive editorial about the speech published by its Civil War-era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union. The paper now says it regrets the error of not seeing its "momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance."