I had an opportunity to spend some time in Gettysburg during the 150th anniversary celebration. What a very cool experience to be in that historic spot at that time. I really can’t explain it but even though we, as a family, go there about once a month, there was something about being on the battlefield during those few days. Let me recap some of the things we did during that week.
On Sunday June 30th we went and hung out with the 1st Pa Reserve Corps Field Music and played fifes and drums with them at both the Daniel Lady farm and at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. This group of young men and women is actually a Boy Scout Venture crew made up of some terrific young men and women. After spending time with them, we went to the opening ceremony over near Meade’s HQ. The opening ceremony was good with the exception of the keynote speaker who completely missed the point. Prior to the opening ceremony, I ran into Garry Adelman and GNMP Director of Education Barbara Sanders.
On July 1st, we arrived in Gettysburg at 7:15am. We were invited to a special event by our favorite Civil War author, J.D. Petruzzi. This event was a presentation on the first shot of the battle at the First Shot monument at 7:30 in the morning! I really can’t describe how cool it was to be on that spot where exactly 150 earlier, Marcellus Jones fired that fateful shot.
After that it was back to Seminary Ridge where we met back up with our fife and drum friends and played most of the morning. One cool thing that did happen was that from out of nowhere, a large group of people came walking across the field and we wondered what was going on. I quickly realized that it was a group of reenactors and spectators recreating the march of the Iron Brigade from the Emmitsburg Road across the fields to join the fighting in Herbst Woods.
Due to some other obligations we didn’t make it back until later in the week but had a great time meeting old friends and seeing all of the exciting things that were going on. We were genuinely surprised at the number of people. Perhaps it was the times we were there or the fact that I know how to avoid the main roads, but we did not have much trouble with traffic or getting around town.
On Saturday the 6th, we went back and spent some time in the afternoon exploring the battlefield. That evening we attended the 150th field Mass which was celebrated by Cardinal Dolan. What an amazing way to end a terrific week! The ceremony was amazing, Cardinal Dolan’s homily was great and it was just very somber to remember all those who lost their lives 150 years ago. My son CJ even got to exchange zuchettos with the Cardinal.