Yesterday was the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. We all know the story. The Union and Confederate armies fought over the fields and hills of Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863. The Union army was victorious and the Confederates retreated to Virginia, never to invade the north again. For a review of the battle look here. This was the bloodiest day of that war that continued until April, 1865.
Following the battle, a National Cemetery was established and Abraham Lincoln was invited to participate, not as the main speaker, but to add a few comments after the two hour oration by Edward Everett, the leading orator of the time. As Everett said to Lincoln, “you said in two minutes what I tried to say in two hours.”
What concerns me is why Barack Obama, who has tried to link himself to Lincoln numerous times, refused to appear at Gettysburg, a short, sixty-five mile,helicopter ride from the South Lawn of the White House. Where Obama has mentioned that he is, like Lincoln, from Illinois, sees himself as the same sort of leader, and was sworn in on the Lincoln Bible, he did not appear at Gettysburg because whatever he said there would be compared to the Gettysburg Address, one of the most important of our national treasures. The comparison to Lincoln would fail as no one has been able to match Lincoln’s perfect message. Then again it may be that Obama disagrees with that message. He was quoted as saying, “these truths may be self evident.” for example.
Nevertheless, after Wilson, FDR, LBJ as vice-president, and Clinton had appeared at Gettysburg, it is very strange, indeed, that the man who has traveled on Lincoln’s coat tails, not appear on that “battle field of that war,” that means so much to America. His excuse was that he had a scheduling problem, although it appears that his schedule was not set until just before the anniversary. We may never know the real reason, but the comparison to Lincoln is the one I think was most telling.
Update: I just read that Obama omitted the words “under God,” as in “one nation, under God,” from his recitation of the Gettysburg Address for a Ken Burns documentary. The plot thickens, as they say.