On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stood and spoke to those gathered on the Gettysburg Battlefield to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. As this year marks the 155th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, it’s the perfect time to explore the events and places with a connection to Lincoln. In the words of Lincoln, “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”
In 1946, Congress designated Nov. 19 as “Dedication Day,” declaring that the Gettysburg Address “…will touch the hearts of men and inspire them with faith in our matchless democracy as long as time endures.” Dedication Day has been annually observed ever since.
On Nov. 11, travel on an authentic Civil War steam locomotive replica along the rails that carried Abraham Lincoln to Gettysburg at Steam Into History in New Freedom. Once you arrive at the train’s destination, Hanover Junction, living historian James Hayney (the spitting image of Lincoln himself) will deliver the historic address.
On Nov. 17, watch Civil War reenactors march through the streets of Gettysburg at the annual Remembrance Day Parade. Then, view a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation personally signed by President Lincoln, on display through Nov. 25, at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum. End your day at the 16th Annual Remembrance Illumination where the names of the 3,512 Civil War soldiers will be read throughout the evening and a luminary candle placed on each soldier’s grave.
On Nov. 18, take an evening tour of the David Wills House, where Lincoln stayed as he completed the Gettysburg Address and stop by the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station. Nov. 19 is the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Soldiers' National Monument followed by a reading of the Gettysburg Address.
Shortly after President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre on Apr. 14, 1865, stage manager Thomas Gourley reportedly placed a 36-star American flag under Lincoln’s head as he lay on the floor of the presidential box. Gourley kept the flag, and it was passed down through his family, who eventually donated it to the Pike County Historical Society. You can see the flag and pay tribute to the fallen president in Milford, in the Pocono Mountains.
See a variety of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. View the hat box for Lincoln’s iconic stovepipe hat he used during the 1860 presidential campaign and wallpaper taken from the Peterson House in Washington D.C. where Lincoln died on Apr. 14, 1865. You also can learn about the ordinary soldiers who fought on both sides during the Civil War — from their equipment and weaponry to wounds and disease treatment, prisoner-of-war experiences, and the emotional drain of the conflict.
To learn about other historical attractions in Pennsylvania check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update!