GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — With his new film about the 16th president in theaters, two-time Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg was to make the keynote address during ceremonies that celebrate the 149th anniversary of “The Gettysburg Address.”
Spielberg’s remarks at Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg on Monday were to be accompanied by a recitation of the famous speech by a Lincoln re-enactor. Sixteen citizenship candidates from 11 countries were scheduled to take the oath of allegiance.
The event at Gettysburg National Military Park was expected to take about an hour, and was free. Previous speakers include presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
Carl Sandberg, in his biography of Lincoln, said it was a speech that conveyed the message that democracy was worth fighting for.
“It had the dream touch of vast and furious events epitomized for any foreteller to read what was to come,” Sandberg wrote. “His cadences sang the ancient song that where there is freedom men have fought and sacrificed for it, and that freedom is worth men’s dying for.”
Gettysburg is where the U.S. military was able to stop an invasion of the North by Confederate troops under Gen. Robert E. Lee, a major turning point of the American Civil War. The 150th year since that battle will be marked in 2013, particularly around the battle’s anniversary in early July.
“Lincoln,” which stars Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, concentrates on the period leading up to the president’s assassination in 1865.
Lincoln gave the three-minute speech, which famously begins with the phrase, “four score and seven years ago,” at the dedication of the cemetery four months after the battle.
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