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Celebrating the most famous 272 words in history

Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers music, drama, education to mark 150th anniversary of Gettysburg Address

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[November 07, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- The memories of a girl who witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Address set to music. The inspiring words of great leaders. A beautiful documentary. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers all of that and more in November to mark the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

The library and museum's Union Theater will present free entertainment and educational events Nov. 18, 20 and 24 as part of a week of special anniversary activities.

Nov. 18 brings a mix of music and dramatic readings. The memories of a 15-year-old girl who witnessed the battle and tended the wounded will be brought to life by actress Nancy Diefenback reading from "At Gettysburg, or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battlefield."

That will be followed by readings from "Team of Rivals," Doris Kearns Goodwin's prize-winning history of the Lincoln presidency.

The presentation concludes with a special musical performance of the Gettysburg Address. Ten voices will combine to present a version of the speech set to stirring music. The piece was composed by University of Pennsylvania music director Bruce Montgomery in 1963 for the 100th anniversary of the speech.

The readings and music will be performed at 8 and 10 p.m. as part of an evening vigil leading up to midnight and the arrival of the actual anniversary.

On Nov. 20, Union Theater hosts a special round table of historians discussing the address and its legacy, followed by a dramatic presentation based on speeches inspired by the Gettysburg Address.

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On the panel are James Cornelius, curator of the presidential library's Lincoln Collection; Martin Johnson, author of "Writing the Gettysburg Address"; Holly Kent, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield; and Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. They'll explore the meaning and legacy of the speech.

Part of the legacy is the way Lincoln's speech inspired others. After the round table, a special presentation will dramatize that inspiration as actors read portions of other speeches delivered at Gettysburg. They'll present the words of Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Tom Brokaw and more.

Finally, on Nov. 24, Union Theater will screen the documentary "The Gettysburg Story," a gorgeous look at the battlefield, Lincoln's speech and their place in history. Filmmaker Jake Boritt will be on hand to answer questions from the audience.

The movie runs at 3 p.m. Reservations for this free event can be made at

For details on the events, visit To make reservations, visit and click on "special event tickets."

[Text from Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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