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New website offers fresh view of Gettysburg Address

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“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

—President Lincoln

Two hundred and sixty-eight words. A mere 10 sentences. It took all of two minutes for the speaker to share them with his audience.

Yet those words ring down to us still, nearly 15 decades after President Lincoln uttered them to a crowd at a cemetery in a small town in Pennsylvania.

Lincoln, the self-taught writer, apparently knew what Shakespeare meant in Hamlet when he wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

His speech in Gettysburg, Pa., comes alive this week in intriguingly fresh ways via a new project of the Civil War Trust, the battlefield preservation group that began in Fredericksburg years ago.

Its site, “Behind the Scenes: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,” went live on Tuesday. It holds much to see and hear, to appreciate and read, whether you’ve never read a peep about Lincoln’s most famous speech or are steeped in its lore.

“This new website will enable people to remember, honor and experience the Gettysburg Address in a manner never before presented,” Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer said in a statement, “by focusing not only on its history, but also encouraging visitors to do what Lincoln did, see what he saw, and touch what he touched in Gettysburg.”

The trust’s latest online offering takes you back in time to Lincoln’s arrival in Gettysburg on Nov. 18, 1863, through six videos featuring Gettysburg historian Tim Smith, audio presentations and 60-plus photos keyed to the 16th U.S. president’s address atop a hill strewn with the fresh graves of Union soldiers killed in the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War.

As you navigate the five stages of Lincoln’s visit, browsers view 22 points of interest where visitors to Gettysburg can see the things Lincoln touched and saw during his trip, such as the train depot where he arrived and departed or the pew where he sat in the Presbyterian Church.

“Our Gettysburg Address website is intended to emphasize the resonance and closeness of history,” Lighthizer said. “If the same trees, the same bricks, the same artillery shells and the same gravestones are still there, then 150 years of time seems less distant. We can engage people in a more direct, interesting and tangible way, compared to simple, instructive websites.”

The site encourages visitors to take advantage of a celestial event related to the Gettysburg Address. This month, light shining from a star that began its journey toward Earth during the Battle of Gettysburg is just arriving on Earth, illuminating the town’s sky for 150th-anniversary tourists.

Wide Awake Films of Kansas City, Mo., a long-time partner with the nonprofit trust, collaborated with it on to produce the video content.

The Civil War Trust is the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. To date, it has saved more than 36,000 acres in 20 states, including 853 acres at Gettysburg.

Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029

cschemmer@freelancestar.com

ON THE NET: 

Website: http://gettysburgaddress.civilwar.org/

Filmmakers: wideawakefilms.com

Lesson Plan: http://bit.ly/GAlesson

WHY GETTYSBURG?

In the summer of 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia in its second invasion of the North. As the Union Army of the Potomac pursued, President Abraham Lincoln placed Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade in command.

Elements of the two armies collided around the crossroads town of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.

When the smoke cleared following the third and last day of fighting on July 3, as many as 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing.

Four months later, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for Gettysburg’s Soldiers National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.

Learn more about the Battle of Gettysburg at this special website, civilwar.org/gettysburg.

—Civil War Trust

 

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