Wednesday, December 28, 2016

95. January 1948

The spring semester of our junior year at Gettysburg High School in 1948 began with impressive wins in basketball over the Alumni and Waynesboro followed by a loss to the perennial Conference Champion Chambersburg. That loss was followed by seven consecutive wins.  Things were looking up for a team on which I was a starting forward.

Basketball scores in the Forties were always very low compared to current contests. For example, in the game against Shippensburg on January 13, the opponents only scored two points in the first quarter and only seventeen for the game. No player on either side scored in double figures.  

Nancy and I began dating as a couple in 1948, or as we said back then, “We are going steady.” In January, however, no one would have predicted that relationship. As a matter of fact, I was dating other girls, and after an evening with girlfriends and several boys, Nancy wrote in her diary on January 2,  “Had a good time. I don’t care about Bruce.”

In 1948 demographers looking into the future suggested, “There is a strong possibility that within a few decades the population in America will reach its maximum size and will begin  to decrease.”

That year, it was predicted that 163 million people would live in America by the year 2000.  Thanks in part to a baby boom, the population passed 163 million by 1955 and soared to over 325  million at present.

In 1948, Robert Heinlein wrote Space Cadet, a novel in which people used cellphones. While the technology for mobile phones was around in the Forties it was not until the mid Eighties that they became widely available.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

94. Christmas, 1947

We loved Christmas in Gettysburg when we were growing up in that famous Civil War town in the Forties. That was long before political correctness, so “Merry Christmas” was still the popular greeting offered and received.  We don’t remember anyone saying, “Happy Holidays.”

Nancy and I were both active in our school choir and chorus, and we sang often for service clubs during the Christmas Season. Our annual Christmas Program at school on December 23 featured the 200 voices  of our combined choir and chorus singing selections from The Messiah by Handel. 

Popular music on our radio, juke box or record player in December of 1947 included a song by Perry Como that was a big hit. The memorable lyrics read like this: 
Oh, Chi-baba, Chi-baba, Chihuahua
Enjilava kooka la goomba 
 Chi-baba, Chi-baba, Chihuahua
 My bambino go to sleep. 
Other songs in the top ten included Ballerina by Vaughn Monroe and That’s My Desire by Frankie Laine. Bing Crosby’s 1947 recording of White Christmas is the version of that popular song heard most often today.

Music on Broadway featured four of the biggest hit musicals ever produced: Brigadoon, Finian’s Rainbow, Oklahoma and Annie Get Your Gun. 

Nancy’s best memory of 1947 was her first prom in the spring of that year. I wish I could report that I was her date, but sadly, I wasn’t.

My best memory was starting at forward on a very successful Gettysburg High School basketball team and earning letters in football, basketball and track for the second year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

93. December 1947 and 2016 Connected

Two events that took place in the Gettysburg National Cemetery sixty-nine years apart are linked to each other.

On December 11,1947, the Gettysburg Times reported that twenty-eight veterans of World War II were to be re-interred that month in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Sixty-nine years later, on December 2, 2016, members of our family, including four great-grandchildren, placed Christmas Wreaths on the graves of World War II veterans in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Undoubtedly, some of those who were honored in 2016 were laid to rest in 1947.

Nancy and I have been participating in the National Wreath Project sponsored by the Sgt Mac Foundation since 2008, and this year we were accompanied by fifteen family members and friends. We were among approximately 300 volunteers who decorated wreaths and placed 1620  on headstones in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

On December 20, 1947, the Times quoted William Haskel, assistant to the president of the New York Herald Tribune, who called Gettysburg, “a fresh air paradise.” Haskell visited Gettysburg the previous week to discuss the Fresh Air Program which placed youngsters from New York City in Gettysburg for a summer visit.  

Nancy’s 1947 diary suggests that we were busy sophomores at Gettysburg High School in December of that year. We were both members of the high school choir which performed numerous times leading up to Christmas. In addition, we were both involved in sports, and Nancy worked evenings at Murphy’s 5 & 10. When did we find time to study?

Monday, November 28, 2016

92. More Memories from November, 1947

An article in the Gettysburg Times on November 10, 1947 reported on the schools and stores that would be closed on Armistice Day, Tuesday, November 11.

Few people today will remember a National Holiday called Armistice Day which honored those who died  in service to our country during World War I.  On June 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day honoring all veterans of all wars.

Another article in the Times on November 10 reported that Secretary of State, George Marshall asked congress for 597 million dollars to be used to rebuild the war torn countries of Europe. In what became known as The Marshall Plan, eighteen European countries received a total of 12 billion dollars in economic support. The United Kingdom, France and Germany were the largest recipients.

November was also the month that the people of Adams County were asked to donate food and cash for the starving people of Italy and France. Contributions were delivered to the Shetter House on Chambersburg Street then trucked to Harrisburg and placed on the Friendship Train headed to New York City.

In November, the first call went out for basketball candidates for the 1947-48 season at Gettysburg High School. Twenty-seven students responded including three lettermen from last year, Kenny Fair, Bill Eisenhart and myself.

Finally, the Yankees beat the Dodgers in seven games in the first televised World Series, and Jackie Robinson, second baseman for Brooklyn, became the first African American to play in a Series. November, 1947

Sunday, November 20, 2016

91. President Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Nancy and I grew up in the Forties, is famous for the Civil War battle that occurred there in 1863. The village is also widely known, because it was there on November 19 of 1863 that Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the best known speeches in American History___ The Gettysburg Address. 

On November 19, 1947, the students at Gettysburg High School were excused early so we could witness the eighty-fourth anniversary celebration of the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery and President Lincoln’s enduring speech.

Unfortunately, we remember very little about the occasion with one exception. Claude Rains, the famous English film star who was nominated four times for an Oscar for Best Supporting actor recited the Gettysburg Address at the ceremony.  

Many people who assume that Lincoln delivered his speech with a rich baritone are surprised to learn his voice was high pitched. In the award winning movie Lincoln, Daniel Day Lewis did his best to impersonate the sound of that voice as he spoke the Gettysburg Address. Here’s a link to the actor’s speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oem_yji7qEQ

Currently, on November 19 each year, the Gettysburg National Cemetery is rededicated and Lincoln’s speech is remembered in the annual Dedication Day ceremonies and Remembrance Day Parade.  The parade attracts thousands of spectators and reenactors alike.

The Annual Remembrance Illumination ceremony occurs in the evening on November 19. The ceremony features luminary candles on each of the 3,512 Civil War soldiers’ graves, and the names of each of the known deceased are read throughout the evening.




Friday, November 11, 2016

90. Our First Dates in the Fall of 1947

In Nancy’s 1947 diary, my name is mentioned several times prior to October 24, but with no hint of anything other than a casual relationship. We danced a few times at the Teen Canteen, and we were officers in the sophomore class, an association that was all business.

All that changed on October 24, 1947 when Nancy wrote,
“I asked Bruce to go to Darlene Kennell’s party tomorrow night. He said, “Sure.” 
Apparently, I didn’t have to think much about how I would respond to Nancy’s invitation. I said, “Sure.,” and we had our first date.

A fire was kindled at Darlene’s party that chilly night in the fall of 1947, but it would take another six months before it burst into flame

Matter of fact, after going on a hay ride together the following week, we only saw each other socially at school dances.

One month after our first date, Nancy went with girlfriends to the movies and the Teen Canteen. That night, she wrote in her diary:

“ Bruce wasn’t even there. I don’t think I like him anymore.” 

In October of 1947, an editor for  our school newspaper, the Maroon and White, asked for students’ reactions to how the girls’ skirts were going “down, down, down.” Our classmate, Bill Eisenhart, offered the most straightforward answer. Bill said, “No, I can’t see enough of the leg.” 

As I recall, that was my thought exactly.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

89. The Maroon and White and the Fall of 1947

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, our school newspaper was the Maroon and White, and it won a first place honor award in 1947 in competition sponsored by the Quill and Scroll International. The judges called the paper “an enterprise providing worthwhile and exciting experiences for its staff.”

The Wednesday, September 17, 1947 issue of the Maroon and White had two full pages of girls’ and boys’ sports including an article about our first football game which we lost to Delone Catholic 25 - 6.

The team won only three games the previous year, and expectations were high that the 1947 team could improve on that record. I was one of only six lettermen returning to the team. 

In a small box on the sports page under the heading, Attention Sports Fans, there was an appeal for suggestions for a name for our teams which were alternately referred to as, “The Little Bullets,” the “Junior Bullets and the “Maroons.” A vote sponsored by the Student Council in our senior year finally created the Warriors, the name teams still use today.

The coming attractions at the Majestic Movie Theater were advertised in the same issue of the Maroon and White, and as usual, three different films were offered within a week. Going to the movies at the Majestic or the Strand  was a popular pastime in the Forties before television. No wonder Nancy mentions it so often in her diary.

When the 1947-48 academic year opened at Gettysburg High School, enrollment increased over the previous year by nearly one hundred students.  As a result, high school enrollment of 660 students set a new record.  Today, enrollment at the Gettysburg Area High School exceeds 1,000.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

88. More about the Summer of 1947

In her diary in July of 1947,  Nancy mentioned that  “Bruce W is in the hospital.”  I had fallen on a tree stump working as a member of the ground crew at Camp Nawakwa and bruised my kidney. The following day, Nancy and her mother brought me flowers.

In August, after I was released from the hospital, Nancy wrote, “In Faber’s today we saw Bruce W. He looked awful. He wore glasses and he limps a little when he walks.” Fortunately, I didn’t look too awful. A few months later, Nancy invited me to go to a party with her. 

Very soon, I would be just “Bruce” in Nancy’s diary, not “Bruce W.”

In July of 1947, an article in the Gettysburg Times reported that Ned Burns, from the Narional Park Service of Chicago and mural painter Carle Ciampaglia inspected the cyclorama painting of Pickett’s Charge displayed in Gettysburg to determine how the famous work by Paul Philippoteaux could be restored.

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, the 360 degree cylindrical painting was displayed in the Cyclorama located on the east side of Baltimore Street on Cemetery Hill. The 1863 Inn of Gettysburg is located on that site today.

When our families had visitors who were not familiar with the Battle of Gettysburg, the Cyclorama was often included in our tour. The massive painting was opened to the public in time for the 50th anniversary of the Battle in 1913.

Today, the 377 feet long, 42 feet high Gettysburg Cyclorama  may be seen in a three-dimensional setting in the Gettysburg National Park Visitor Center. 


Monday, October 17, 2016

87. The Summer of 1947

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, we loved our summer activities like swimming at the local pool or one of the numerous parks nearby. A favorite of ours for both swimming and picnicking was Caledonia State Park, 18 miles west of Gettysburg. According to news reports in the summer of 1947, Caledonia was officially recognized by Pennsylvanians as its number one State Park.

Yes, the water was always cold, but the setting and the access to forested picnic areas, made a summer visit to Caledonia enjoyable and memorable.  

Over the years, members of our family have continued to visit Caledonia. As recently as this past summer, our daughter and her husband camped at this very popular State Park.. 

Laurel and Fuller Lakes, about 18 miles north of Gettysburg, were also popular. Nestled in the forests of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the water was just as cold as Caledonia but we still remember those lakes fondly. 

Nancy learned to swim in another popular location a few miles south of Gettysburg called Natural Dam where her parents rented a cottage for family and friends for several summers.

In the summer of 1947, I was a member of the staff at Camp Nawakwa, a Lutheran Leadership Training Camp in Brysonia thirteen miles north of Gettysburg. The Camp had a large pool that was mine to enjoy any time I wasn’t working. The only downside was, I had to clean it every few weeks. 


Also, that summer Nancy was hired as a counter clerk on weekends at Murphy’s 5 & 10 on Baltimore Street. It was a job she held until she entered Shippensburg State Teachers’ College in the fall of 1949.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

86. More about the Spring of 1947

Students who played varsity sports at Gettysburg High School in the spring of 1947 were pleased with the results. The track team went undefeated while setting several new school records, and in their first season since 1936, the varsity baseball team won five games and lost three.

The biggest event in national sports in the spring of 1947 was the news that Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African American to play Major League Baseball since Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884. I was an avid Dodger fan prior to 1947, and I followed the team that year to a National League Championship. I was broken hearted when they lost to the Yankees. 

On April 18 in 1947, Nancy wrote in her diary that she saw The Jolson Story at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg. “It was wonderful,” she noted. I was so inspired by Al Jolson’s extraordinary voice that for the next fifty years I did impressions of the man some called, “The Greatest Entertainer of the Twentieth Century.”  

The musical Jolson opened in London in 1995 at the Victoria Palace and ran for seventeen weeks. In 1997, Nancy and I were delighted to see Jolson at a theater in Toronto, Canada in box seats right next to the stage.Unfortunately, we could never find evidence the show ever ran on Broadway.

Both Nancy and I were members of the school choir and chorus which performed at the Annual Music Festival on May 9, 1947. We were also members of the youth choir at the Reformed Church where we worshipped regularly and where we were married in 1953.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

85. Spring Sports, Dates and Dances

The spring of 1947 was a time for spring sports, dating and dancing for Nancy and me growing up in Gettysburg as sophomores in high school

The 1947 baseball season was a first for Gettysburg High School since 1936, and it began with a 10-6 convincing win over Shippensburg on the home field. Our classmate, Ronnie Kump who went on to play professional baseball, went 2-4 with a home run in the fourth inning.

The Gettysburg track team began the season with a win over nine Class A schools in the Shippensburg State Teachers College Invitational. Throughout the season, I participated in the 110 yard low hurdles with success and the high jump and broad jump with a few victories.

In the spring of 1947, Nancy participated in a softball program sponsored by the Girls Athletic Association and a club team sponsored by a Youth Group,

Nancy’s diary for 1947 reveals that In March of that year, she asked a boy to the Leap Week Dance and then the  Sadie Hawkns Day Dance the following Saturday. Nothing shy about this sophomore girl. In May, the same boy invited Nancy to be his date at the Spring Prom. Incidentally, this classmate just happened to be the boy she played Post Office with back in February at a Valentine’s Party.

Undoubtedly, Nancy danced to songs by the most popular singers in the Spring of 1947 who were Vaughn Monroe, Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Nancy’s favorite, Perry Como. We still hear their music on several channels on Sirius Radio.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

84. We Were a Hearty Bunch

In her diary for Thursday, February 20, 1947, Nancy wrote, “It snowed all day today. It’s real deep and it’s drifting.”  The following day, she wrote, “The snow is from 15-18 inches deep. Only 50% of the kids got to school today, but we had classes anyway!”

On Friday, the Gettysburg Times reported that “schools throughout the County were closed in the afternoon as a result of the snowstorm.” Yet Gettysburg High School remained opened with 50% of the students attending, and Lincoln School for sixth, seventh and eighth grades was open with 85% of the students in attendance.

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, “Townies” walked to school or hitched a ride with someone who drove. Those who walked to school on Friday, February 21, battled huge drifts and wind described by the Times as “twisting and biting.” Obviously, we were a vigorous and hearty bunch back in the Forties. 

On Friday, the Times also reported that “All County schools announced that basketball games scheduled for tonight have been postponed until later dates.”  According to Nancy’s diary, the Times was wrong. The Gettysburg basketball team played Waynesboro and beat them 45-36. It was our tenth win in 19 games. 

Following the game, there was a dance which Nancy attended “for a little while” with friends. By 1949, the Friday night dances after basketball games would be a normal routine for Nancy and me as a couple.

An article on the sport page of the Times on February 22 reported that Stan Musial, the National Leagues’ batting champion and most valuable player has not yet signed a contract because the St.Louis Cardinals refused to pay him the $30,000 he demanded.

Bryce Harper , the current MVP in the National League, is playing for the Washington Nationals with a two year contract which will pay him $3,750,000 this year.

Monday, September 12, 2016

83. A Valentine Party in 1947



Nancy’s 1947 diary reveals that on February 14, she attended a Valentine Party where ten boys and girls were present. Her diary also notes that they danced, ate and played Coffe Pot.  Then they enjoyed playing the kissing game, Post Office.

We recently mentioned the party and the games at a family gathering and were greeted with blank stares. We were particularly surprised that no one heard of Post Office. It is time to enlifghten our grandchildren and great-grandchildren about the games we played when we were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties.

In Coffe Pot, one player is separated from the others who are asked to come up with a noun, for example, house, dog, tree, shoe. The separated player returns to the group and by asking a series of questions using “coffee pot” in place of the noun, the player has to guess the word.

For example, "Can you eat a coffee pot?" “Is a coffee pot alive?” The other players answer “yes” or “no.” If the guessing player correctly identifies the word, the player who last answered the question is the next guesser.

At the Valentine Party in 1947, it was time to get down to more serious interaction in an exciting game of Post Office.  To play, a boy is chosen to be the postman, and that person leaves the room. Then a girl is chosin to “check her mail.” She knocks on the Post office door, and when she is admitted, they kiss. Nancy remembers checking her mail often when one particular boy was the Postmaster.

We wonder how many boys and girls experienced their first kiss playing Post Office?

Monday, September 5, 2016

82. Our Historic Church

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg, we were members of the historic Evangelical and Reformed church on South Stratton Street. We went to Sunday School, attended worship services and sang in the youth choir.

On July 1, 1863, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Union troops fighting north of the town were overwhelmed by Confederates under Jubal Early. As the defeated units retreated through Gettysburg, wounded men were brought to the church which served as a hospital.

Sgt. Reuben Ruch wrote that at least ten operating tables were set up in a lower room where holes were drilled in the wooden floor to let the blood drain.

There is also evidence that the bell tower of the church was used by Confederate sharpshooters, probably men from the Louisiana Tigers who occupied that area of Gettysburg until July 4.

On Tuesday, May 21, 1936, when she was five, Nancy was bride in a Tom Thumb Wedding in the church involving more than more than forty children. The wedding was so well attended, an overflow crowd required a second performance the following day. 

Seventeen years later, on May 30, 1953, Nancy and I were married in our  church giving her the unusual distinction of being married three times in the the same church to two different grooms.




Saturday, August 27, 2016

81. Winter, 1947

81. Winter 1947

The resources available to Nancy and me as we write about growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties include her diaries from 1947, 1948 and 1949.  She was very faithful to record her activities every day, and we will refer to her  journals often as we continue to post entries on our blog.

For example, in early January of ‘46, Nancy wrote that it snowed 3-4 inches. When we read that, we tried to recall snow days when school was closed because of bad weather. We couldn’t.  A Google search supported our recollection.

A headline in the February 21, 1947 issue of the Gettysburg Times reported that 15-18 inches of snow fell in Adams County the previous day. As a result, schools in six county communities closed in the afternoon, but Gettysburg Schools were open all day with about 50 percent in attendance.

Nancy and I never realized we were such a hearty people.

Nancy’s January, 1947 diary reveals she was a dedicated player and fan of basketball. She participated in basketball for a sophomore club team, went to all varsity and JV home games and most away games, attended Gettysburg College home games and even attended a few junior high games.

One varsity game, Nancy didn’t see occurred at Hershey on January 10.  Here’s how it was reported in the Gettysburg Times:
A one-handed field goal by Bruce Westerdahl in the last five seconds of play gave the Gettysburg High Maroons a thrilling 36-34 victory over Hershey in a South Penn League.
In the eight years I played high school and college basketball, I don’t recall many games, but that shot and that win are permanently fixed in my mind.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

80. Christmas Season, 1946

The 1946 Christmas Season in Gettysburg where Nancy and I grew up was packed with a variety of memorable activities for two busy and enthusiastic high school sophomores.

On Sunday evening, December 15, we attended  a Christmas Concert by the Gettysburg College Choir at the Majestic Theater. The following Sunday, we were part of the crowd that attended the Christmas Concert at the Majestic performed by The Blue and Gray Band. 

The month of December was filled with numerous opportunities for dancing  sponsored by the Student Council, the Elks Club, the Gettysburg High School Alumni, and the Teen Canteen.

Nancy was an avid and adept dancer, and by December 1946 I was no longer shy about dancing with girls, so we are certain we attended most, if not all, those  events.  Unfortunately, I was taught an unorthodox style of slow dancing, and that led to some awkward stumbling with my partners.

Obviously, after seventy years, there is much we have forgotten, but we still  have vivid memories of two events that occurred during the Christmas Season in 1946 and are still popular today. 

The Christmas Song, subtitled Chestnuts Roasting on the Open Fire, was released by Capital records in December of 1946. The song, featuring Nat King Cole, has an ageless charm, and I still get choked up when I hear it.  

The ultimate holiday classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, made it’s premier in December of 1946, and ultimately, became one of the most  popular movies of the 20th Century. 

The Christmas Song and It’s a Wonderful Life continue to remind us of 1946 when we were teenagers growing up in Gettysburg.  Below is a link to The Christmas Song:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x182jg0_nat-king-cole-the-christmas-song_music?GK_FACEBOOK_OG_HTML5=1




Thursday, August 11, 2016

79. Obsolete Expressions

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, our parents and grandparents used expressions which are rarely heard today.

For example, when I was an annoying juvenile, I dropped a water balloon on my kid brother from a second story window. When my Mother saw it, she shouted a stern,  “What the Sam Hill are you doing?” Many years later  I learned the phrase “What the Sam Hill?,” can be traced back to the 1830s and is simply a sanitized version of “What the hell?”

Back in the Forties, when Nancy brought home a report card with straight A’s, her Mother might say, “Now that’s the cat’s meow.” meaning she considered her report to be outstanding. I don’t remember what my parents said when they saw my report card.

We no longer hear the phrase, “Holy Toledo!” used to express astonishment. I have been to Toledo, Ohio, and it’s not holy by any standard, but in Toledo, Spain, there are 172 cathedrals, and that’s a remarkable bit of trivia. Perhaps that’s where that phrase originated.

Growing up in the Forties, we occasionally  heard the phrase, “Faster than Jack Robinson.” Surprisingly, that phrase was around long before Jackie Robinson played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. According to Wikipedia, Jack Robinson was an English gentleman in the 19th century who changed his mind so often you had to be quick to catch him in a decision.

Obsolete words and phrases are part of our heritage, and even if we haven’t heard one in a month of Sundays,” when we do, it brings back fond memories of growing up with our “kinfolk.” We haven’t heard that word recently either.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

78. Thanksgiving 1946


From mid-1945 to mid-1947, approximately 90 percent of the 12 million servicemen and women who participated in World War II for the United States were discharged. 

Thanksgiving in 1946 was a time for many Americans to be truly grateful. World War II was over and millions of servicemen and women had returned home to their families and loved ones.

Yet there were homes where Thanksgiving in 1946 would be quiet and reflective, because a loved one who was killed in the war was not present. Over 400,000 Americans gave their lives for their country during the war.

In Gettysburg where Nancy and I grew up in the Forties,  Dr. Henry Hansen, president of Gettysburg College, told Rotarians “the whole world is in a position where it ought to sit down and be thankful for the things it does have and the hopes it has for the future.”

Incidentally, a full course Thanksgiving turkey dinner including soup, salad and dessert at Mitchell’s Restaurant on the square in 1946 cost $1.25.

At Gettysburg High School in early December, 700 fans celebrated the beginning of basketball season with a win over St. Francis Prep School 29-25.In the first period of the game, neither team was able to locate the basket. As a result, the score at the end of the first period was 4-2. At half time, Gettysburg was winning 16-6. Obviously, there was no shot clock in  1946.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

77. Memories of the Gettysburg National Cemetery

Each year on November 19, residents and honored guests gather in the Gettysburg National Cemetery to remember the occasion when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address on the same date in 1863. When Nancy and I were sophomores at Gettysburg High School in 1946, students were dismissed early to attend the 83rd anniversary program.

More than a thousand persons grouped around the Soldiers National Monument which the local print media reported “marks the spot where Lincoln spoke.” That same article indicated that the main speaker, Congressman Jennings Randolph, “stood where Lincoln stood.”

The fact is that President Lincoln did not deliver his famous Gettysburg Address in the National Cemetery because there were open graves and fresh reburials  everywhere. The dedication ceremony in 1863 occurred in the adjacent Evergreen Cemetery which, incidentally, is where Nancy’s parents and many of her relatives are buried.

When we were growing up in Gettysburg, Nancy’s home was at the bottom of the Baltimore Street hill before it rises again to Cemetery Hill. If she had lived there in 1863, she could have waved to President Lincoln going to the dedication ceremony and returning to the diamond as the center of Gettysburg was known then.

When Nancy and I were dating, we often walked through the beautifully landscaped Gettysburg National Cemetery. We still visit the hallowed ground each December to participate in the  Christmas Wreath Program sponsored by the Sgt Mac Foundation.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers prepare Christmas wreaths which are placed on the headstones of graves in the Gettysburg and Quantico National Cemeteries. The project was initiated by the parents of Marine Corps Sergeant and Gettysburg native Eric McColley, who was killed in the line of duty in 2006.