President Barack Obama has apparently decided to skip the 150th anniversary celebration of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, sparking some outrage among Pennsylvania newspapers and people who live near the famous Civil War battlefield.
The event to commemorate arguably the most famous speech by the 16th president will take place Nov. 19 at Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg. Instead of attending himself, Obama is sending Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, The Washington Times reported late Thursday
Newspapers in the Keystone State, which Obama carried in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, are taking the president to task for his decision.
"For a president who has so demonstrably associated himself with Lincoln — the heir of Lincoln's policies who announced his candidacy from the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield and used the Lincoln Bible (twice) at his inauguration — this is nothing less than a profile in cowardice," wrote Donald Gilliland of Patriot News
in the state capital of Harrisburg.
"How could he not pay his respects to those whose ultimate sacrifices that made his presidency possible?" read an editorial in the York Daily Record Thursday
. "How could he not visit and acknowledge the new birth of freedom that is his — and our nation's inheritance of that battle?"
"Symbolism matters," the Record added. "President Obama could have used this occasion to offer words of healing and reconciliation — as his Illinois forefather once did.
"Instead he is sending us a little-known Cabinet member to do the job of a president, of a statesman, of an orator. Unacceptable."
The paper called on him to reconsider.
The Gettysburg Times, meanwhile, expressed disappointment, noting that local officials have been planning for a possible presidential visit for months.
The Washington Times noted that if Obama had accepted the invitation to speak, he would have been the 25th president to visit the Gettysburg National Military Park since the summer of 1863, when Union and Confederate forces engaged in an epic battle over three days that proved to be a turning point in the Civil War.
The Washington Times noted White House spokesman Jay Carney offered no explanation for the decision, and said he had "no updates on the president's schedule" for that particular day.
But Carney called the anniversary "an enormously significant event in our history," adding that he believes Americans "will take the appropriate time to consider the speech that was delivered there."
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