The Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln celebrates its 150th anniversary today, drawing thousands to the site at which it was delivered in Pennsylvania. There was one notable absence, President Obama.
The speech, one of the best known in the nation’s history, was two-minutes-long and received a loud ovations when it concluded.
Gettysburg was the site of one of the bloodiest and deadliest battles of the Civil War, which took place between July 1 and July 3, 1863.
The Gettysburg Address was delivered on this date, November 19, 1863, during the dedication ceremony for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Lincoln delivered the now famous speech, which came at a turning point in the Civil War, after more than 7,000 soldiers died and over 40,000 were injured in the battle.
The 272 word speech symbolized the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, and the sacrifices and struggles made by both Confederate and Union soldiers.
Thousands gathered on the cold, but sunny morning on Tuesday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, but President Obama was not in attendance, even though he has referenced Lincoln on many occasions during and before he was elected to office.
Obama announced his candidacy for the Presidency in 2007 in Springfield, Illinois, the birth place of Lincoln and was sworn in both times by placing his right hand on the Civil War President’s Bible.
For the 2009 inauguration, he replicated Lincoln’s 1861 route from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
Just a short 65-mile ride, easily traveled by helicopter, the President instead chose to go to the Four Seasons Hotel and address The Wall Street Journal CEO Council’s annual meeting, where he will talk about the economy.
CNN reports that out of 28 Presidents, 24 have attended the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Many believe it’s impossible not to be compared with the famous speech.
According to the Gettysburg Times, every 20th century President paid a visit to the site for the commemorations, except Bill Clinton.
When asked for an explanation of President Obama’s absence, White House press secretary Jay Carney said:
“I don’t have any scheduling updates to provide to you. Obviously, that address and that moment in time is seminal in our history. I think that all Americans across the country will have the opportunity to think about those words and that address.”
As to why the president was absent, “I don’t have anything more for you.” Carney said.
The Gettysburg Battle is considered the turning point of the war, when federal forces turned back a Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania.
Lincoln’s speech was delivered at the dedication of a national cemetery to bury those who died in the Gettysburg Battle.
One of the most notable lines in the speech is when Lincoln spoke of how democracy itself rested upon “the proposition that all men are created equal,” a statement that has become symbolic of his Presidency.
What do you think of President Obama’s decision not to attend the Gettysburg Address 150th anniversary?