Park Service ceremony commemorates Gettysburg

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William H. Hincks, right, portrays his great, great, grandfather Medal of Honor recipient William Bliss Hincks taking a Confederate flag from a color bearer portrayed by Skip Koontz, center, of Sharpsburg Md., at a re-enactment of Pickett's Charge during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Sunday, June 30, 2013, at Bushey Farm in Gettysburg, Pa. Union forces turned away a Confederate advance in the pivotal battle of the Civil War fought July 1-3, 1863, which was also the war’s bloodiest conflict with more than 51,000 casualties. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Thousands of people have gathered at Gettysburg National Military Park for a service commemorating the 150th anniversary of the fierce battle that proved to be the turning point of the American Civil War.

National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis told attendees Sunday night the weeklong events are intended to honor the dead, and recognize the courage and heroism of the soldiers who fought at Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863.

He says visitors have also gathered to reaffirm the principles that demanded the terrible sacrifices Union and Confederate soldiers made 150 years ago.

Historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin delivered the keynote address. Her best-selling novel "Team of Rivals" in part inspired last year's Oscar-winning film "Lincoln."

The ceremony was scheduled to conclude with a procession to Soldiers National Cemetery.