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Freeport 'Lincoln' Chosen To Deliver Gettysburg Address

Susan Stephens

A Freeport man will bring Abe Lincoln to life Thursday to deliver the Gettysburg Address at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. George Buss assumes the role after Jim Getty portrayed the 16th President for four decades. Getty died in September.

Lincoln delivered the address on Nov. 19, 1863.

The address will be read live on YouTube; the ceremony to commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address begins at 9 a.m (central)

How have you prepared to get the details just right?

BUSS: This is an academic pursuit. It's best to go back to the primary source documents. Having studied Lincoln for a number of years, he [had] a frequent use of punctuation. Also in the performing arts, the use of that pause. There are so many writers who said 'We heard Lincoln speak.' And what a dynamic speaker he was! There was so much meaning and feeling when he spoke. I think the meaning and feeling comes from his use of punctuation and the effective use of pause.

As you prepare to become Lincoln, what is something people would be surprised to know?

BUSS: I do a lot of pacing before a performance. That is something that people usually don't see. While I was speaking with you, I am out on the deck next to the hotel. I was just walking through the words and several of the folks came out and they said 'Are you all right?' and I said 'I am just reading.' But when it comes time to take the podium, then that podium is where I am at.

What can we still learn about this message today?

BUSS: It is truly a birth, death, and renewal message. This war has come and the apocalyptic casualties on this continent have never been seen. What does a leader say to a people that have sacrificed so much? The statistics, as you dig into those deeper, it devastated communities. What do you say to that public to what is going to come out of the battle?

Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield. She is a former "Newsfinder of the Year" from the Illinois Associated Press and recipient of NIU's Donald R. Grubb Journalism Alumni Award. She is an active member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association and an adjunct instructor at NIU.
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