Wednesday, January 21, 2015

7. The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Growing Up in Gettysburg was initially intended to be limited to the years after I moved to that famous historic town in 1942, but Nancy was born there, and  she witnessed an event in 1938 when she was seven that deserves to be mentioned here

Thousands of visitors from all over the country came to Gettysburg from June 29 to July 6, 1938 in observance of the 75th anniversary of the battle which occurred in the historic town in 1863. For five of those days, Gettysburg was declared the official seat of the Pennsylvania government.

Among those in attendance were 1,500 Union veterans and 500 Confederate veterans, honored guests of the state and national governments. Visitors were able to meet and greet the veterans in their Anniversary Camp set up on the Emmitsburg Road.

The program for the eight-day observance included lectures, parades, fireworks, a 48 plane air show, religious services and daily concerts by the U.S. Army Band, but the featured event was the dedication of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, and the primary speaker was President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Nancy remembers going with her father to the dedication, but she doesn't recall seeing the President. Our classmate, Bill Snyder, however, has a vivid memory of sitting on his father's shoulders and catching a glimpse of FDR in his Cadillac convertible with a Cavalry escort.

When the Peace Light was dedicated, it was intended that the flame should burn forever, but just a few months after World War II began in 1941, the visible flame was discontinued at night at the suggestion of the local defense authorities. The invisible pilot light continued to burn until the war was over when the visible flame burned 24 hours a day again.

NOTE:   Film clips of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg are available on uTube.

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