"Lincoln" Director, Stephen Spielberg, Speaks at Gettysburg Commemoration Ceremony

Steven Spielberg asked sixteen newly minted Americans to remember equality as the Abraham Lincoln biopic director marked the 149th anniversary of the president's famous "Gettysburg Address."

Pictured: This June 7, 2012 file photo shows director Steven Spielberg at the AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Shirley MacLaine at Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif. 
Spielberg addressed citizens from 11 countries who took the oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens Monday at the Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg.

After spending seven years working his new movie "Lincoln," Spielberg says the 16th president came to feel like one of his oldest and dearest friends. He says Lincoln would want us to realize equality is a "democratic essential."

Gettysburg is where the U.S. military was able to stop an invasion of the North by Confederate troops under Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Lincoln gave the three-minute speech, which famously begins with the phrase, "four score and seven years ago," at the dedication of the cemetery four months after the battle.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

With his new film about the 16th president in theaters, two-time Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg was to make the keynote address during ceremonies that celebrate the 149th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."

Spielberg's remarks at Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg on Monday were to be accompanied by a recitation of the famous speech by a Lincoln re-enactor. Sixteen citizenship candidates from 11 countries were scheduled to take the oath of allegiance.

The event at Gettysburg National Military Park was expected to take about an hour, and was free. Previous speakers include presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

Carl Sandberg, in his biography of Lincoln, said it was a speech that conveyed the message that democracy was worth fighting for.

"It had the dream touch of vast and furious events epitomized for any foreteller to read what was to come," Sandberg wrote. "His cadences sang the ancient song that where there is freedom men have fought and sacrificed for it, and that freedom is worth men's dying for."

Gettysburg is where the U.S. military was able to stop an invasion of the North by Confederate troops under Gen. Robert E. Lee, a major turning point of the American Civil War. The 150th year since that battle will be marked in 2013, particularly around the battle's anniversary in early July.

"Lincoln," which stars Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, concentrates on the period leading up to the president's assassination in 1865.

Lincoln gave the three-minute speech, which famously begins with the phrase, "four score and seven years ago," at the dedication of the cemetery four months after the battle.

SOURCE: MARK SCOLFORO 
ASSOCIATED PRESS
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