Gettysburg, Pennsylvania has often been described as one of the most patriotic places in the country. Throughout the year, there are attractions and events that celebrate and commemorate Gettysburg’s – and America’s – rich history. Patriotism is the pride and devotion to one’s country and Gettysburg gives visitors ample opportunities to feel just that. Here’s a list of places and events you can visit if you’re feeling patriotic in your travels to Gettysburg.
The biggest draw to Gettysburg is the history and Gettysburg National Military Park is the heart of that rich history. Walk the same paths that Union and Confederate soldiers did in July 1863 and also be sure to visit the hallowed grounds of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Guests have described the experience of visiting these two places as quite sobering as they reflect on the events that took place there. Gettysburg National Military Park also hosts living history events throughout the year.
The Gettysburg Memorial Day Parade is one of the oldest continuing ceremonies in the country, just recently marking its 150th year. In honor of those who died serving the country, the Gettysburg Memorial Day Parade features many flags of past and present military members, prominent speakers, reenactors and musical performances.
Independence Day tends to be the peak of patriotism in many American’s lives; the cookouts and themed desserts, red, white and blue everywhere and extravagant fireworks displays. Sure, these fireworks displays happen all around, but Gettysburg puts its own patriotic spin on the holiday. The Patriotic Pops Concert and Fireworks is a fun and interactive family event that includes the Gala Pops Orchestra performing popular American tunes and a patriotic fireworks show immediately after.
What’s more American than baseball? Enjoy America’s favorite pastime in the way it was played a few decades after its invention in 1839-no gloves and wool uniforms, at the Annual Gettysburg National 19th Century Base Ball Festival. The free event takes place during the third weekend in July and depicts the baseball scene in Gettysburg in 1864 with authentic equipment (or lack thereof) and uniforms. Baseball fans will enjoy getting a glimpse of the past and comparing to what the American sport is today.
Around the third week of September the annual World War II Living History Weekend at the Eisenhower National Historic Site and in nearby New Oxford, Pa., takes place complete with Allied and German army camps, WWII vehicles and hundreds of living history enthusiasts. Much like the Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment, there are programs and demonstrations that give spectators an up-close and personal experience with soldier life of the time. Go back to 1944 during what is described as “the most destructive war in all of history” and take a walk through the camps, talk to a soldier and then end the day swing dancing at the WWII style “USO” dance.
Remembrance Day is Gettysburg’s annual tribute to the soldiers who had fought here and is celebrated the Saturday closest to Dedication Day, which falls each year on Nov. 19. The Remembrance Day Parade features thousands of Civil War reenactors that walk through the streets of Gettysburg and ends with a very visual tribute to fallen soldiers at a luminary ceremony that lights up Soldiers’ National Cemetery. During this time, respects are paid to all of those who had fought and sacrificed so much for their country.
Dedication Day is the recognition of the anniversary of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. The annual ceremony takes place Nov. 19 in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and features a wreath laying and keynote speaker. Stand on hallowed ground and listen to a recitation of the famous speech and reflect on those who lost their lives during “a great civil war testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
The third Monday in February is set aside to recognize the lives and achievements of the past and present U.S. presidents. While many presidents have come through Gettysburg, Lincoln and Eisenhower left their permanent mark on the area. There are many historic sites, tours and other attractions that visitors can go to for a deeper appreciation and a chance for reflection on the people and events that of the Civil War, but also how Gettysburg fit in with WWI and WWII.
For a complete list of patriotic event in Gettysburg, visit our events here.