On Tuesday, November 19 at 1 p.m., students, faculty and staff of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa will participate in a historic civic exercise when they join together to recite the Gettysburg Address commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s national cemetery dedication address delivered as a memorial to the over 50,000 soldiers who died in battle at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln’s two minute, 272-word address redefined the purpose of the Civil War.
IWC’s recitation will take place in front of the historic Harlan-Lincoln House located on the Iowa Wesleyan College campus at 101 W. Broad Street. The Harlan-Lincoln House is the former home of U. S. Senator James Harlan. Harlan’s daughter married Robert Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln’s only surviving son.
The college’s participation is part of a challenge given by Ken Burns, acclaimed film documentarian of such series as “The Civil War” and “The Dust Bowl” for his upcoming project, “The Address” which will premier in April 2014.
Iowa Wesleyan College’s recitation of Lincoln’s speech will be uploaded to Burn’s new website, “Learn the Address, www.learntheaddress.org., to “create an online living archive of one of the most important speeches in American history.” IWC’s recitation will join recitations by among others, President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton, along with Steven Spielberg, Usher, Taylor Swift, Whoopi Goldberg, Gabrielle Giffords, Steven Colbert, Bill O’Reilly and Wolf Blitzer.
In his eulogy of President Lincoln, Senator Charles Sumner referred to the Gettysburg Address as a “monumental act.” Sumner went on to state that Lincoln was mistaken that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Sumner continued, “The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech.”