By Evan Rothera
On Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19 a sense of excitement filled the air. No, not because Thanksgiving break was right around the corner, but because of the events planned for the two days that were Rememberance weekend– a time of year where Gettysburg becomes filled with renactors, civil war buffs, and tourists. Not only was there a parade, and ceremony on Dedication Day, but there was a Jazz Concert, the 45th Annual Fortenbaugh lecture, and book signings after the lecture. Students, community members, and visitors alike had the opportunity and privilege to attend any or all of these programs. This commemorated the 143rd anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
One of the higlights of the weekend was the parade on Saturday from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, Union and Confederate re-enactors marched through town, in groups, which ranged from the 19th Regiment P.U.I. Company G to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans from Maryland. Not only did these units carry swords and guns in varying styles and sizes, but they also carried flags, ranging from large to small. The re-enactors who portrayed soldiers did so very convincingly, as they rounded corners, the officers barked out commands to make sure that the marching was not flawed.
At 8:00, the Gettysburg College-Community Orchestra performed in the Majestic Theater. The Orchestra played pieces such as: Shostakovich’s Festival Overture, Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, Bizet’s L’Arlesienne: Suite No 2, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.2. They were conducted by Dr. Lewes Peddell and featured not only a guest conductor, Dr. David Ramael, but also a violin solo by Lizzie Van Voorhis.
In the Dedication Day Ceremony, wreaths were placed at the Soldiers’ National Monument to honor the dead and their sacrifices.
After the wreaths were placed, everyone was treated to remarks by Tom Brokaw. Brokaw gave an address about not only the importance of the Gettysburg Address, but the idea of sacrifice, especially involving todays’s conflict in Iraq.
He urged all citizens wheter they supported or did not support the commander in chief or the war itself, to support the soldiers because they were fighting for all of us. Brokaw also spent time discussing the political atmosphere today. For what could have been a politically charged address, Brokaw made sure to stick to relatively unifying themes, which became his overarching idea, that the country needs to find a common ground. The ceremony was concluded with James Getty’s, who portrayed Abraham Lincoln, recitation of the Gettysburg Address.
The 45th Annual Fortenbaugh Lecture featured Drs. James and Lois Horton, who spoke on “The Man and the Martyr: Abraham Lincoln in African American History and Memory.” Also featured was Jeff Shaara, who awarded the 2006 Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction to E.L. Doctorow, for his novel The March.
After the lecture, people had the opportunity to have books signed by Professor Gabor Borritt, Jeff Shaara, E.L. Doctorow, and the Hortons’.
Rememberance Weekend was a success and represents one aspect of the uniqueness of attending Gettysburg College, very few students across the country can speak of seeing renactors walk through campus, and even fewer can report that many of these renactors are in fact students.
Contributions to the Article by Kim Tenure