Last weekend a good friend went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for their Remembrance Day activities. She posted these pictures on facebook, and with her permission, I’m reposting them (with her descriptions) below. I know I usually stick with WWII history, but today we’ll go a little further back in time, to the American Civil War.
Each year on the Saturday closest to Nov 19, Gettysburg has Remembrance Day (Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on Nov 19). It is a chance to remember the battle, the war, and the cost of freedom. Norwich University hosts a short (2-3 mile) walking battlefield tour ending at the National Cemetery where we place flags on graves.
The interior section of the cemetery is where they buried many of the Federal troops killed during the Battle of Gettysburg 149 (!) years ago. As time has passed they’ve found that some of those buried were probably Confederate troops so you’ll occasionally come across something like this where you have a USA & a CSA flag side by side.
I’ve gone several years on these tours with Norwich & every time I am struck by the fencing as we walk the park, esp near the “high water mark.”
Honestly, aren’t these angles fun? On a more serious note, it is easy to see why people would get caught at the fences when trying to advance across the fields.
After the tour we go to the main street for the Remembrance Day Parade. Hundreds of re-enactors participate each year, their last hurrah for the season.
Not all of the costumed march. Others stand on the sidelines & cheer. This juxtaposition made me smile – the woman in her period clothes holding a McDonald’s bag. Most come in Civil War era clothing but we did see a Teddy Roosevelt, a couple of dough boys, & several WWII airborne infantry.
I didn’t get a picture of him but you always have a Lincoln & a General Lee. Both sides are represented during the day’s festivities although I failed to get pictures of the Federal troops as I was warming up indoors when they went by, although I could see them through windows.
The re-enactors get to pick their own rank so you get a disproportionate number of high ranking officers to enlisted. 🙂
Many of the re-enactors are young…
Most of the younger re-enactors are pipests,
or they’re drummer boys.
Black & white photography just felt right for the time period they are portraying
But this bag pipest’s costume needed to be seen in color. The traditional kilt, flashers, scarf, & tam paired with his gray coat.
A few of the southern flags seen throughout the parade.
I love this statue! It always reminds me of the stories I’ve read, or been told, of how you keep fighting even though you’re exhausted because you don’t want to let the “brother” fighting beside you down.
For the last few years at the end of the day I’ve been able to help set up & light the lumanaries in the cemetery. Pictures don’t do it justice but it is a very powerful, moving sight.
This year I was assigned to work on one of the three “unknown” sections. There are hundreds of unknowns buried here as they didn’t have dog tags. The assumption was because you served with men you grew up with they’d be able to identifiy you, but that was often not the case.
To give you some idea of the number of soldiers buried here just from the Battle of Gettysburg, this is maybe 1/3 of the lumarnies.
Keep in mind that this is just a small percentage of those killed during the battle as most of the dead were shipped home. It is always a forceful reminder that freedom isn’t free.
Thank you to my friend (she prefers not to be named) for allowing me to share this album with my blog readers. This Thanksgiving week, I am very grateful for all the sacrifices others have made so that I can have the blessings of freedom.
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I am grateful for all the sacrifices people in the past (and now) make to secure freedoms for us. Great post. I would really love to see this in person. The luminaries would be very neat to see.
I agree–I’ve been to Gettysburg, but not for Remembrance Day. The luminaries are beautiful, aren’t they?
Yes, they are. At girl’s camp, they put those fake candles in baloons and set out 100s one night, and that was cool too.
Very interesting about Gettysburg Amanda. Joseph and I had a relative on the South’s side who lay on the battlefield for 2 days. Everyone thought he was dead, and they had taken his clothes. When he regained consciousness, he was taken to a prison camp. A nurse from the north had pity on him and wrote to his wife in Georgia saying that he was alive. The men coming back to Georgia told his wife they had seen him dead on the battlefield. She didn’t know who to believe. He eventually came limping home. He had a ball in his hip the rest of his life.
Wow, Sheila, thank you for sharing that story. That poor wife! I recently read a book about Stalingrad, and some of the German POWs didn’t come back home to Germany until years after WWII ended. One of them arrived home nine or so years after getting married. He and his wife had been together for a total of five days up to that point. The rest of the time he’d been away at war or away in a POW camp.
Yesterday (11/19) Steven Spielberg spoke at the Gettysburg Address Commemoration ceremony. He was invited as his new film “Lincoln” just came out (I haven’t seen it but am intrigued). I appreciated that he made the speech about the cost of battle. A brief excerpt from his speech:
“All the glory and all the tragedy we associate with the Civil War resides most palpably, and most indelibly here…
“The reason for this concentration of heartbreak and heroism… is simple, and Lincoln told us what it was that day, when he found his best and his truest voice: It’s the courage, the selflessness, the strength, endurance, heroism and the sacrifice of the patriots who are buried here – most of them terribly young men…
“It’s the memory of those honored dead, those in their graves, and those who have never been found that brings all of America, always, back to Gettysburg.”
As has been said, at this time of Thanksgiving I too am so grateful for the sacrifice made by American servicemen & their families for all freedoms we enjoy each day in the US.
My respect for Spielberg (already high) just went up. Thank you for sharing that excerpt (and thanks for everything else you shared for this post!). Wars are tragic, and I think we can best honor those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” by never forgetting their sacrifices.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.