Sunday, October 25, 2015

42. Gettysburg Is Still the Small Town We Remember

Nancy and I entered Gettysburg High School in the fall of 1945 when an article in the local paper reported that approximately 16,000 people visited the National Military Park the preceding year.  By the time we graduated in 1949, the number of visitors increased to  over 43,000, and in 2012,  the Gettysburg / Adams County Chamber of Commerce reported that 1.2 million people toured the historic site.

While visitors to the Park increased dramatically over the years, the number of residents in the borough has not. When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg the population of the town was 7,000. Today, it is 7,600.  

The reason the town doesn’t grow is because it is surrounded by the Battlefield. The fields and hills where rivers of blood ran freely in 1863 prevent the growth of the town we remember when we growing up.

Today, there are more tourist shops and restaurants, and the high school and athletic fields where we competed are gone, but many of the streets  we travelled are virtually the same. Of course, the Battlefield with a few exceptions is also the same. We hope it will always endure as a shrine to the brave men who fought and died there.

There are also ghosts in Gettysburg now. We don’t remember ghosts in the Forties. We suspect they were always there. They just needed someone to look for them, find them and promote them.         

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