The Associations That Preserve Gettysburg’s Legacy

A number of associations and nonprofits, built around both the Battle of Gettysburg and the president who made an iconic speech on the grounds of the Pennsylvania town, are working to keep the Civil War battle's legacy alive.

A number of associations and nonprofits, built around both the Battle of Gettysburg and the president who made an iconic speech on the grounds of the Pennsylvania town 150 years ago this week, are working to keep the Civil War battle’s legacy alive.

Seven score and 10 years ago, a president made a two-minute speech at a memorial held for those lost during a hard-fought battle in a southern Pennsylvania town. And we’ve been talking about those 10 sentences ever since.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address will receive a public dedication on Tuesday (from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST) at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg on the occasion of its 150th anniversary. The event, to be attended by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and historian James McPherson, will be livestreamed online (something you definitely couldn’t say about the original speech) and will be sponsored by a number of Lincoln- and Gettysburg-related nonprofits.

Groups, you say? Well, as it turns out, several associations and nonprofits focus on both the Civil War battle and the iconic president, including:

The Gettysburg Foundation: A lead sponsor of Tuesday’s dedication, this group helps run the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, having been a nonprofit partner of the U.S. National Park Service in that mission since 1989. The foundation, which was launched that year, also has worked to restore and preserve hundreds of acres where the iconic battle was fought.

The Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania: Founded in 1938, the Fellowship has helped organize a yearly dedication to Lincoln at Gettysburg since 1939 and is another sponsor of Tuesday’s event. Last year, the group’s dedication speaker was Steven Spielberg, who directed the 2012 Oscar-winning film Lincoln. The group will also sponsor Tuesday’s event.

The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association: Another preservation-minded group, the association was launched in 1959 to purchase endangered land “to protect the battlefield from modern development.” The group also has put on several reenactments in recent years, including a medical reenactment at Daniel Lady Farm earlier this year.

The Abraham Lincoln Association: This group, which observes the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and works on the preservation of Lincoln artifacts, is holding an event of its own on Tuesday in the former president’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The organization, originally called the Lincoln Centennial Association, was formed in 1908—it held a national celebration the next year in honor of Lincoln’s 100th birthday—and has remained active ever since, undertaking such efforts as digitizing the president’s correspondence and publishing a journal of Lincoln scholarship.

How is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address resonating with you? Let us know in the comments.

(Library of Congress)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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