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Eisenhower Speaks at Gettysburg

Nov. 19, 1963 - The national cemetery dedicated in Gettysburg, Pa., 100 years ago by Abraham Lincoln was rededicated today by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Two prominent Negroes, both descended from slaves, took part. They are Marian Anderson, who sang, and E. Washington Rhodes, editor-publisher of The Philadelphia Tribune and president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Gen. Eisenhower and Gov. William W. Scranton, who also participated, referred only indirectly to the Negro’s struggle for civil rights. But they both commented that the “unfinished work” referred to by Lincoln was still unfinished. In a message read at the ceremony, President Kennedy said that “Lincoln and others did indeed give us ‘a new birth of freedom.’ But the goals of liberty and freedom, the obligations of keeping ours a government of and for the people are never-ending.” General Eisenhower, prior to the playing of “Taps” in honor of the nation’s war dead, departed from his prepared remarks to say: “My friends, Lincoln reminded his hearers that they had no power to dedicate this ground. So we, today, have no power to rededicate it. But with the playing of ‘Taps,’ we can share the grief of every family who has heard that a son or father or sweetheart has fallen. If we can but do this, we will begin to do our part to solve the unfinished business of which Lincoln spoke.” The ceremony concluded a three-day commemoration of Lincoln’s address, during which the speech was analyzed and explained by historians, politicians, journalists, and foreign diplomats, in the town of Gettysburg, at Gettysburg College, and at the cemetery.


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