Gettysburg Foundation honored acclaimed stage and screen actor Stephen Lang with its inaugural Kinsley Award at Gettysburg, during the Gettysburg Foundation Gala, Oct, 5, 2019.
Lang’s memorable portrayal of Major General George Pickett in the film “Gettysburg” forever linked him with historic Gettysburg. And, his Medal of Honor trilogy includes the Gettysburg-inspired, “The Wheatfield,” in which Lang portrays James Jackson Purman of the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Lang is currently working on a project to turn the story of “The Wheatfield” into a book for young readers.
“Gettysburg is comprised of a thousand individual memories and stories, events and legends, failures and triumphs—we can think of Lincoln or Lee. Of John Reynolds or John Buford. Of George Meade, Lew Armistead, Joshua Chamberlain, Marcellus Jones, Pop Greene, John Burns, Jennie Wade. These names, and a thousand more, are stitches in a historical tapestry that tells our story. A story that is mythic in both terrible beauty and beautiful tragedy,” said Lang in his acceptance speech.
“When Anne and I first considered the idea of an award, we envisioned an heirloom, something we could continue to pass on in recognition of the love and devotion we feel for this place,” said Bob Kinsley, chair of Kinsley Construction and chair emeritus of Gettysburg Foundation.
A frequent visitor to Gettysburg and contributor to Gettysburg Foundation programming, Lang continues to be an advocate for battlefield preservation and education.
“We are thrilled to recognize those so passionate about the preservation of the battlefield and its history. Stephen’s generous contributions of his time and talent, along with his willingness to share his great breadth of knowledge of Gettysburg has given a contemporary voice to the events of our past,” said Kinsley.
In his introduction of Lang, Harold Holzer, noted Lincoln scholar, described Lang’s ability to create special and truly moving performances. “Whether he’s channeling Abraham Lincoln or George Pickett or Stonewall Jackson—he not only comprehends the power of the past but helps us envision it too. He helps us recognize the timeless value of history to illuminate our lives and inspire our future. He makes us care not only because he’s so good—but because he cares so much.”
The award Lang received holds special significance, as the personal gift was a cane constructed of chestnut witness wood from the historic George Spangler farmhouse. The cane represents one of the elements Lang uses to bring his portrayal of Purman to life.
Named in honor of the Robert and Anne Kinsley family for their years of service and support of Gettysburg Foundation and its mission, the award is presented to an individual or organization that exemplifies Abraham Lincoln’s vision of a humble, civil and inclusive society.