November 21, 2017
Remembrance Weekend in Gettysburg demonstrates Americans still honor our county’s history and aren’t intimidated by those wishing to destroy our heritage
GETTYSBURG _ This past weekend many proud Americans braved a driving rainstorm to witness a parade honoring those who fought in the pivotal battle of the Civil War and withstood a cold biting wind to remember one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in this nation, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The weekend patriotic activities took place despite what area police cited as a “credible threat” to disrupt the planned activities and do harm to those attending. No terrorism acts were reported anywhere in the town or national park. Hopefully law enforcement officials are tracking down the person or persons responsible for making the threat and making an arrest.
Police took the threat seriously and the parade route was lined with officers and park rangers looking for any signs of trouble. Large concrete barriers blocked access from side roads to the main parade route. In the days preceding the weekend people wondered if mayhem would disrupt the commemoration. I was involved in several conversations about the threatened violence on Friday.
Saturday’s parade route was shortened because of the threat received by the Gettysburg Times on November 6. The newspaper reported the communication threatened “to disrupt the whole weekend in specific ways.” The parade was not as large as in prior years but the driving rain had a lot to do with the number of participants in the parade and spectators. It is a credit to the thousands standing for an hour or more in the rain to watch those marching units to remember our nation’s history, both the good and bad. There were Confederate groups and Union groups. One of the first Union units in the parade portrayed an African American regiment from the Civil War.
There is a growing discontent among a large segment of American citizens with a small group attempting to rewrite American history. Supporters of the travesty clearly have little understanding of our heritage. Our educational system is partially responsible for the decline in understanding of the underlying principles of America and allowing superficial interpretations of the past. Citizens are also responsible for not standing up for our heritage.
President Lincoln’s words were remembered Sunday, on the anniversary of the speech. As those attending the event were gathering in the national cemetery, I took a few minutes to walk the battlefield where Pickett’s Charge was repulsed. I replaced American flags blown over by the severe wind and I remembered those who sacrificed so much there.
Of course Lincoln said it best. The following is part of the speech that we all should follow:
“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.”
The actions of anarchists bent on the destruction of the United States will never, as Lincoln noted, detract from their sacrifices. And we all should be dedicated to advancing the unfinished work. Our first step should be to protect our proud history.