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150th Anniversary of Battle of Gettysburg events

Written by witf | Jun 13, 2013 9:18 AM
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Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with more than 200 special programs between June 29-July 7. Free visitor opportunities include Civil War talks and book signings, National Park Service Ranger programs, overview hikes, battlefield experience programs, children’s programs, more than 500 Civil War reenactors doing encampments, firing demonstrations and more.

Signature Events

The “Gettysburg: A New Birth of Freedom” commemorative ceremony on June 30, at 8 p.m., will feature Pulitzer prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as the keynote speaker and a performance of the national anthem by country music artist Trace Adkins. The United States Military Academy Orchestra will perform and the 3d U.S. Infantry will provide a color guard and a 21 gun salute with howitzers. The highlight of the event will be "Voices of History," a dramatic reading of eyewitness accounts written by soldiers and citizens swept into the events of the battle and its tragic aftermath.

The ceremony ends with a procession to the Soldiers' National Cemetery to see luminaries marking each of the more than 3,500 graves of soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Pickett's Charge Commemorative March - Another highlight of the nine days of programs will be on July 3 at 3 p.m. when National Park Rangers lead the Pickett's Charge Commemorative March across nearly one mile of open fields. The special program offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Confederate soldiers who made this fateful attack from Seminary Ridge or to stand on the ground defended by Union soldiers on Cemetery Ridge. The march begins with the firing of artillery at 3 p.m. and ends at the High Water Mark with a playing of echo taps along Cemetery Ridge by buglers in both U.S. and Confederate uniforms.

George Spangler Farm - This summer, for the first time ever, visitors can tour this Gettysburg farm that served as a field hospital to more than 1900 wounded Union and Confederate troops. The site is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Access is free and by shuttle bus only from the Museum and Visitor Center. Tickets are required, available at the Museum and Visitor Center. 18. Special National Park Service Ranger programs on July 4 will explore Civil War medicine and the experiences of the wounded at the farm from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Access is free and by shuttle bus only from the Museum and Visitor Center. No tickets necessary on July 4.

Park Service Ranger Programs

Living History Camps - Two full battalions of Union and Confederate infantrymen accompanied by artillery and other supporting units will present demonstrations and programs near the Pennsylvania Memorial and at Pitzer's Woods throughout the day to illustrate the life of the Union and Confederate soldier and demonstrate the tactics used by both armies in the Battle of Gettysburg. (PLEASE NOTE living history events are July 1-3 only.)

Key Moment Programs - Each day of the battle and on July 4, Park Rangers will present ranger guided programs at locations where key events occurred during that particular day of the battle, or during the battle's aftermath.

Overview Hikes - Each day of the battle, and on July 4, Park Rangers will present 60 minute overview hikes covering different phases of the battle and its aftermath. These will involve more walking than Key Moment programs.

Battlefield Experience Programs - Park Rangers will provide special programs that allow visitors to experience critical moments of the battle at the approximate time they occurred 150 years ago. This will include a July 3 Commemorative March across the field of Pickett's Charge, with visitors organized by NPS rangers to represent the Confederate brigades that participated in the attack and the Union soldiers that defended against it.

Voices of the Battle - Every evening at 7:30 p.m. visitors can gather and listen to the voices of soldiers and civilians describing their experiences during the battle and aftermath.

Special Junior Ranger Patch - Continuing throughout 2013, kids can earn a special 150th Anniversary Junior Ranger patch by completing an activity book associated with the battle anniversary activities.

"Kids and Family" Activities Tent - For children we will have a "Kids and Family" programs tent just outside the Visitor Center with activities throughout the day. We will also have a special interactive Signal Corps station July 1 through 3 near Meade's Headquarters.

Park Ranger Programs at the Museum and Visitor Center - Park Rangers will present Battle Overviews, Civil War Soldier, Care of the Wounded programs on a regular schedule in the Museum and Visitor Center or at Interpretive Program stations outside the building. In addition to programs in the museum, the park will offer some programs at sites including the Cemetery, Little Round Top and the Angle.

Programs and events will showcase Gettysburg as a defining event in the American Civil War and the war’s legacy in our continuing struggle for civil rights.

The battle of Gettysburg changed the course of the American Civil War and the history of this nation,” said Bob Kirby, Superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park. “Soldiers and civilians in Gettysburg witnessed some of the most dramatic and horrific scenes of the war and these special programs provide an opportunity for us to explore their struggle and sacrifice and to better see those who were engaged in it.”

These Gettysburg programs are not a celebration but rather a thoughtful commemoration of the people who were caught up in this cataclysmic confrontation,” added Kirby.

A full list of programs is available in a commemorative event guide at the Gettysburg national Military Park Museum and Visitor center information desk and is also available on the web.

In conjunction with the 150th Anniversary, Dickinson College is also hosting an exhibit of Civil War-era drawings in The Trout Gallery.

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