ALPENA - On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most recognized and meaningful speeches by any president, The Gettysburg Address. On that day during the Civil War, Lincoln addressed a crowd that was present for the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. The speech was a reminder to the citizens of the young nation that all men are equal and and the men who lost their lives for freedom were never to be forgotten.
On Nov. 19, 2013, there will be a reenactment of that important day in American history. Lincoln will be in Alpena to take part in a parade through town and then deliver the Gettysburg Address to the people who show up to see him at Culligan Plaza.
The parade and speech are only part of a three-day community outreach event that was created for area resident by the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan. Beginning on Nov. 18 there will be a remote exhibit featuring Civil War artifacts set up at the First Congregational Church for the public to see, as well as guest speakers each night talking about Lincoln, Gettysburg and the role soldiers from Alpena played in the Civil War.
Dr. Greg Adamus is on the museum's board of trustees. He said he came up with the idea when he made a trip to Gettysburg with decendents of people who fought in the battle. The group traveled to Gettysburg to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle and knowing the sesquicentennial of the speech was approaching Adamus pitched an idea to celebrate the event in Alpena.
The board liked the idea and plans were made to take the public back in time to the Civil War era. Adamus said the museum is always looking for ways to offer community outreach and thinks the celebration shows the strong commitment the museum has to Alpena.
"The museum is bringing history to the people and that is the sign of a very strong museum," Adamus said. "We have to have the exhibit at the satellite location at the church, because we have our very popular Seasons of Light going on and we can't move that because the people love that too."
Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Ky., which is now named LaRue County and Adamus said it was a rural area much like Alpena. Adamus said he is confident that if the former president were to have visited Alpena he would have felt a sense of home, mostly because of the people.
"He would have loved Alpena and he would have fit in tremendously," Adamus said. "His morals and values were very similar to those who live in Alpena and he would have enjoyed and appreciated our culture."
The parade featuring Lincoln, accompanied by Mayor Matt Waligora and museum Executive Director Christine Witilski, on horseback will begin behind the post office at about 1 p.m. and will travel down Second Avenue to Culligan Plaza. The 264 word speech will take about three minutes to deliver.
Each night there will be a guest speaker at the church. On Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Don Londo will talk about Alpena's men at Gettysburg and then the following night at 7 p.m. Adamus will talk about Lincoln's visit to Gettysburg and what it meant to the nation which was struggling with the war. On Nov. 20 Alpena Community College President Olin Joynton will talk about the philosophy of Abraham Lincoln.
Adamus said all of the events are free to the public and he hopes people come out to show their support for America and freedom. He said he hopes the downtown businesses will support the event as well, by decorating downtown in red, white and blue.
"I know a lot of the businesses have bunting and maybe some will put it out and make sure they have their American flags out," Adamus said. "I think the sight of Lincoln riding in on horseback and delivering the speech is going to be very special and unique to Alpena. I hope everyone recognizes its significance and takes a few minutes to come out and celebrate with us. It is going to be very special."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com