Despite the decision made by many cities and states across the country to remove Confederate monuments, one national park said it will not remove any Civil War memorials.
Katie Lawhon, senior adviser for the park service’s Gettysburg battlefield office, told the Reading Eagle the site-specific memorials are important, and the park service’s job is to historically and objectively tell the stories the monuments commemorate.
The Hanover Evening Sun also reported that the Civil War battlefield memorial plans to keep all of its more than 1,325 monuments, markers, and plaques in place, including those dedicated to the Confederacy. Thirty of them are dedicated to Confederate states, military units, and individuals.
“These memorials, erected predominantly in the early and mid-20th century, are an important part of the cultural landscape,” Katie Lawhon told the Evening Sun.
“The National Park Service is committed to safe guarding these unique and site-specific memorials in perpetuity, while simultaneously interpreting holistically and objectively the actions, motivations, and causes of the soldiers and states they commemorate,” the National Park Service, which oversees the Gettysburg National Military Park, added on its website.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North.
The Union lost more than 23,000 troops at Gettysburg, while the Confederacy lost more than a third of its soldiers—around 28,000 troops.
To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, a “Soldiers Cemetery” was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line. It was here during the dedication ceremony on November 19, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln spoke of “these honored dead…” and renewed the Union cause to reunite the war-torn nation with his most famous speech, the “Gettysburg Address”.
The cemetery contains more than 7,000 interments including over 3,500 from the Civil War.
The National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center is the place to begin your visit to Gettysburg National Military Park. Here visitors will find information on how to visit the park and what to see around Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is owned and operated by the Gettysburg Foundation in cooperation with the National Park Service. Entry to the center is free. There is a fee for the film experience, cyclorama program, and access to the museum exhibit hall. The center hosts a large book and gift store operated by Events Network as well as a “Soldier’s Rest” saloon that offers a full menu throughout the day.
The Soldier’s National Cemetery (Gettysburg National Cemetery), the final resting place of the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg and where President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous address, is also located in the park and is open from dawn to dusk throughout the year.
About 3.7 million tourists visit the area each year, according to a nonprofit that promotes tourism in the county.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain―that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
―Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863