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Obama won't attend Gettysburg Address remembrance

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October 31, 2013 02:25 PM EST | AP


GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Barack Obama will not attend next month's event marking the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania, national park officials said.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will instead represent the administration the Nov. 19 sesquicentennial, officials at Gettysburg National Military Park said Wednesday.

Jewell and historian James McPherson will share the role of keynote speaker. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett also plans to attend the ceremony.

McPherson, a top Civil War historian who won the Pulitzer for "Battle Cry of Freedom," said he was surprised by Obama's decision.

"I thought he would probably come. He identifies with Lincoln and knows a great deal about him," McPherson said in an interview. "It might have been an opportunity for him to say something important, maybe enhance a tarnished image. He's going through a rough patch right now."

Lincoln delivered the immortal words of the address at a dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery on Nov. 19, 1863, more than four months after the Civil War's pivotal battle. More than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg are buried there.

Other events scheduled for the commemoration include a reading of the Gettysburg Address by a Lincoln portrayer.