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 Posted: Fri Aug 26th, 2011 12:48 am
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Michael F. Blake

Joined: Fri May 7th, 2010
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From the Gettysburg Times, Aug. 25, 2011
by Scot Andrew Pitzer

The official 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg remains two years away, but interest continues to surge in event planning.

According to Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Bob Kirby, at least 12 scheduled events in 2013 are already sponsored or co-sponsored by the park.

"We are anticipating a slew of permit requests," said Kirby. "It is going to be a special time," continued Kirby, adding that the anniversary is likely to be "commemorative instead of celebratory."

Currently, only the Sons of the Union Veterans has filed a permit application with the Park Service, as the group would like to host a "large commemorative event" at the Eternal Peace Light Memorial in June 2013.

"There has been interest building for the 150th anniversary in Gettysburg for several months. Already, visitors are calling our information centers asking questions about the commemoration and looking to book rooms for 2013," said Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesman Carl Whitehill. The GCVB is the official tourism promotion agency in Adams County.

"We are working hard to emphasize to visitors that the commemoration is five years long and that you don't have to visit in July 2013 to get a great Civil War experience - it's what Gettysburg does every day of the weekend, all year round," added Whitehill.

"We expect this interest to grow over the next few years and that visitation will climb significantly in 2011 and 2012, ahead of the 150th commemoration of the battle in 2013," concluded Whitehill.

Events that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the Park Service include a winter lecture series on the war; living history events throughout the 6,000 acre battlefield from April-October 2013; a special exhibit dubbed "Treasures of the Civil War;" spring and fall seminars co-sponsored by Gettysburg College; musical performances; co-sponsorship by the park of the 2013 Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College; special ranger programs; co-sponsorship of a lecture series dubbed "Sacred Trust - Gettysburg Perspectives;" a Remembrance Day Illumination at Soldiers' National Cemetery; and a graveside salute to the U.S. Colored Troops.

"We are thrilled that groups are approaching the battlefield and other locations in town to host events and gatherings during the commemoration," said Whitehill. "Events - big and small - are Adams County's biggest draw," said Whitehill.

Planners are expecting a big turnout for special events associated with the 2013 Congressional Medal of Honor Convention, organized by Bob Monahan Jr., scheduled for Sept. 18 - 22, 2013 in Gettysburg. Monahan thinks the Convention will be a "milestone" event in observance of the sesquicentennial.

Kirby also noted that the park is "very excited for Nov. 19," the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The park is seeking a significant speaker to commemorate the speech.

The official five-year anniversary of the American Civil War is being recognized statewide from 2011-2015, with the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg occurring July 1-3 in 2013. Millions of tourists are expected to visit the area over that five year period, according to the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Kickoff events were held statewide in April, and thousands of tourists attended events in Gettysburg, where re-enactment "skirmishes" were held along Baltimore Street, and at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. There was also an official "kickoff" ceremony held at Pennsylvania Memorial, drawing more than 1,000 guests, featuring several dignitaries.

Pa. Governor Tom Corbett has described the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War as a "great opportunity for citizens to learn the important role that Pennsylvania played in the war."

According to the park, scheduled events and programs in 2013 will "commemorate defining events in our nation's history and their legacy in the continuing fight for civil rights." "Events and programs will honor the brave men and women whose courage and devotion to duty shaped our nation," said Kirby, noting that the park will "include stories of both well-known and lesser-known events, soldiers and civilians, and an important goal of the commemoration is to reach new and younger audiences."

As part of a national Civil War 150 initiative for parks, Gettysburg National Military Park now has eight Civil War trading cards which are given to younger visitors as a reward for participating in interpretive programs. Two dozen national parks have a set of unique trading cards which are being distributed to visitors for free.

copyright 2011

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