Dedication Day 2012

Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.  This date is commemorated each year in Gettysburg as Dedication Day, the day the National Cemetery was dedicated.  There is a wreath laying at the National Soldiers’ Memorial followed by a keynote address.  This year was my third time at Dedication Day.  In 2010 the speaker was Sam Donaldson, who did a very good job imagining Lincoln and today’s media, and giving some Ronald Reagan anecdotes.  Last year’s speaker was Stephen Lang, who did a fantastic job.  This year, the keynote speaker was Steven Spielberg.  He spoke about how it is easy to be humble in Gettysburg, that he developed what might be thought of as a friendship with Lincoln, that he wanted to resurrect Lincoln for 2-1/2 hours, and that he was lucky he had Daniel Day-Lewis on his speed dial so anytime he missed Lincoln he could call and ask DDL to tell him a story.

Here is a story from the York Daily Record discussing Spielberg’s visit and his speech.

Jared Frederick had an excellent post on the speech here, including excellent photos and a link to Spielberg’s entire speech posted on YouTube by filmmaker Jake Boritt, son of Civil War historian Gabor Boritt.  Take a look at the speech.  It’s worth the time.

For comparison, here is Stephen Lang’s speech from last year.

Following the ceremonies at the National Cemetery it was time to travel over to the Gettysburg Hotel, by the town square, for the annual Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania luncheon.  The keynote speech was given by my friend, Joe Fornieri, a political science professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.  He asked the question, “What made Lincoln great?”  It’s a good question to ask, as he brought up Napoleon and asked what was it about Lincoln that made him great?  He settled on Lincoln’s essential goodness as a distinguishing feature from Napoleon.

That evening, Stephen Hahn delivered the annual Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture.  Robert Fortenbaugh was a history professor at Gettysburg College who enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the Civil War with his students.  Prof. Hahn gave a wide-ranging lecture covering Emancipation, the Santee Sioux Uprising, and policy toward the Plains Indians as part of Reconstruction.  I have to say I think it was a bit too far ranging, as I don’t believe he successfully linked the Santee Sioux Uprising and subsequent execution of the 38 Sioux to either Emancipation or Reconstruction.

I plan to post his speech when it gets posted on YouTube, but in the meantime here are Michael Burlingame’s Fortenbaugh Lecture from 2009 and Joan Waugh’s Fortenbaugh Lecture from 2011.

So ended 5 days of Lincoln immersion, from the special screening of Spielberg’s “Lincoln” to Stephen Hahn’s Fortenbaugh Lecture.  It’s been a great time for this student of the war.  If you have the opportunity to attend the Lincoln Forum Symposium or Dedication Day at Gettysburg, I highly recommend it.

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