During the Spring of 1992 I was working at the Pentagon and living in Alexandria, Virginia. My son Ray had come out from Oregon to live with me for a while. While I was living in the Washington, D.C. area I bought me a book titled 365 One Day Trips From Washington, D.C. At least that is the title as I remember it. You can tell from the title what I used it for. One of those day trips was to the Gettysburg National Military Park, in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.
Ray and I were both overwhelmed with what we saw. There are miles and miles of monuments, memorials, and statues. It is mind boggling to see. The battlefield was more than you could imagine even if you had seen the various Gettysburg movies. They don't even begin to convey the enormous size of the battlefield. Not to mention the feeling you get of being overwhelmed.
We took a driving tour around the park and it went for miles and miles. Just how many miles of road winds through all the memorials I don't know. But I read somewhere that there is a 23 mile driving tour you can take. Stopping and reading some of the memorials tells of how many fought at that particular location and as you look around to see the hundreds of memorials it boggles the mind.
I looked up the casualty numbers for the Battle of Gettysburg and here is what I found:
The Union Army had 3,155 men killed and had 14,530 wounded and 5,365 missing for a casualty total of 23,040.
The Confederate Army had between 2,600-4,500 men killed and had 12,800 wounded and 5,250 missing for a casualty total of 20,650-25,000.
President Lincoln's Gettysburg speech was given at the consecration and dedication of the soldiers' cemetery at Gettysburg.
A center piece of the park is the purported location of where the platform was from which President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg speech. Most believe it was his greatest speech and some even believe it is considered one of the most eloquent pieces of writing in the English language. I personally believe it is one of the greatest speeches ever made by anyone. If you would like to read it yourself I am including it below at the bottom of this post.
While at the Gettysburg National Military Park Ray and I also visited the Eisenhower Farm. The Eisenhower National Historic Site is the home and farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield, the farm served the President as a weekend retreat and a meeting place for world leaders. Most notable of which was the Soviet Premier Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev's visit to the Eisenhower's Farm on September 26, 1959.
The Eisenhower Farm is well worth visiting on it's own. But with the Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower Farm setting right next to each other you had better plan staying a couple of days (minimum).
Now this doesn't have much to do with anything but my visit to Gettysburg in 1992 was the first time I ever saw or visited a Walmart store. In those days there were not a lot of Walmart's outside of the south.
Now as promised here is the text of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address given on November 19, 1863 when 17 acres of Civil War battlefield ground were dedicated as a national cemetery.
"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 battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather 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."
Mr. Lincoln, I must disagree with you when you say "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here." The world does remember what you said there that day and will never forget!