Thursday, November 19, 2015

Live blog: Garrison Keillor gives keynote at Gettysburg Address anniversary

The Civil War Picket today watched a live stream of Dedication Day events marking the 152nd anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Garrison Keillor (left) of “A Prairie Home Companion” gave the keynote address. The ceremony, which included the naturalization of 16 new American citizens, is usually held at Soldiers’ National Cemetery. It was moved to Gettysburg College because of weather concerns. (NOTE: The Picket was not in Gettysburg).

11 a.m.: Dedication Day event concludes. The colors are retired.

10:55 a.m.: Following the benediction, Taps is played.

10:51 a.m.: Recording of President Barack Obama welcoming new citizens is played, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and "God Bless America."

10:48 a.m.: Sixteen people from 12 countries -- including Ghana, Iraq, China, Vietnam and Russia -- take part in a naturalization ceremony making them U.S. citizens. A video image captures the array of diversity among the new citizens. The crowd gives a standing ovation after they take the oath of allegiance. 

10:41 a.m.: Soloist Wayne Hill sings the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

George Buss recites the Gettysburg Address (USCIS)

10:37 a.m.: Lincoln portrayer George Buss, who is about the same height and weight of the 16th president, recites the Gettysburg Address (full text is at the bottom of this post)

10:34 a.m.: Officials give Keillor the flag that was to have flown at the cemetery during the ceremony. 

10:32 a.m.: The radio variety show host says people are "awestruck" about what happened at Gettysburg and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. "God bless their memory."

10:27 a.m. Keillor, in a dark suit with a red tie and socks, recites a riveting "mashup" of letters that 12 soldiers, two from the South, wrote to loved ones back home about marching and camp life, including details of food, scenery and being homesick. Among the letters he quotes: "The boys are enthusiastic in their admiration of Pennsylvania and the nice girls in particular." Another young man wrote, "We marched a distance of 30 miles and I was pretty much used up ... I slept all unconscious until the first streak of daylight and reveille." One asked his mother to remember him in her prayers. "I hope and pray that I might be spared to see you." All the letter writers died at Gettysburg.

10:20 a.m.: Steven Herr, president of the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, introduces Garrison Keillor.

10:16 a.m.: Joanne M. Hanley, president of the Gettysburg Foundation, describes the group's role in supporting the park and mentions a Lincoln statue. "It is our duty ... that the powerful stories of Gettysburg .... are told and retold for generations."

10:13 a.m.: Ed Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park describes the role of volunteers in preserving the battlefield and establishing Soldiers’ National Cemetery. He said President Lincoln challenged America to remember what the soldiers did there. Americans today should be committed to service, he said.

10:10 a.m.: Gettysburg College's president talks about the battle's impact on the campus. Janet Morgan Riggs says students and faculty went to hear President Lincoln at the new cemetery for the fallen. "We are very proud to have played a part in these historic events."

10:06 a.m.: The Rev. Maria Erling of Gettysburg Seminary gives the invocation, asking people to be inspired by those who gave their lives. 

10:02 a.m.: After a welcome, the National Anthem is played as a color guard in Civil War-era uniforms stands in front of the stage.

9:58 a.m.: Program is about to begin.

9:43 a.m.: A small band of school-age musicians in Union uniforms is performing music at the Gettysburg College Union Ballroom.

The Gettysburg Address (delivered on Nov. 19, 1863)

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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