Ike, JFK, and the Gettysburg Address

Emerging Civil War

Ike at Gburg Address Centennial.jpg Ike at the lectern for the 100th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (photo courtesy The Gettysburg Times)

Today is the anniversary of the death of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1969. In commemoration, we offer the intertwined story of Ike, JFK, Lincoln, and the Gettysburg Address.

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For the 100th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the Centennial Commission and National Park Service invited President John F. Kennedy to come to south-central Pennsylvania and offer a few appropriate remarks. Renowned for his writing almost as much as Lincoln was—Kennedy had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 and his inaugural address had become an instant classic—the president seemed the ideal choice for such an auspicious occasion. He had also visited the battlefield earlier that year, in March, and had enjoyed himself tremendously.

Kennedy demurred on a return trip, however. He had already committed to attend a…

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