A speech that changed America is remembered.
James McPherson, a Civil War historian, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, were just a few of the prominent individuals who spoke at a wreath laying ceremony conducted on the battlefield at Gettysburg. The day was also celebrated with a naturalization ceremony for 16 new citizens, led by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Jewell promised to keep her speech as short as Lincoln's 2-minute discourse, eliciting chuckles and applause, USA Today reported. She went on to discuss the significance of the 16th president's words, saying they "remind us of what it means to be an American."
"Lincoln's words stand at the vortex of our national consciousness," Jewell told the audience. "Hearing them, we are reminded of the sacrifice of so many for freedom."
McPherson recalled for the crowd the immediate results of Lincoln's speech in Gettysburg.
"The Battle of Gettysburg became the hinge of fate on which turned the destiny of that nation and its new birth of freedom," McPherson said.
"Lincoln's timeless words embodied and galvanized us as a nation," Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said during the ceremony. "Everything we've achieved since that time…was borne out of the sacrifice of the soldiers that fought here and the patriots that followed through their footsteps throughout history."
The Gettysburg Address is renowned for reminding the country of the principles it was founded upon, namely liberty, justice and equality. It was given at a time when the nation was divided by war and conflicting views on slavery.