Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Modern Day Gettysburg

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Modern Day Gettysburg

Wet Plate Image of Me on the Steps of Seminary Ridge Museum

It has now been 151 years since the battle concluded. For one who loves 19th Century American History Gettysburg is a Mecca for those who study the American Civil War. Few places resonate with the soul like Gettysburg, the site of the bloodiest three days in the Civil War. The National Parks Service is doing a great job in its efforts to return the battlefield to its 1863 landscape. There are few experiences that equal that of driving or walking the battlefield in the early morning hours when the area is devoid of tourists. It is peaceful, solemn, eerie, haunting, and compelling.  

Seminary Ridge

The town of Gettysburg is charming and populated by lovely architecture; however, it is inundated with purveyors of misrepresented inauthentic, head slapping, mind bogglingly disrespectful & tacky souvenirs of gimcrack and gewgaws and doodads of marginal relationship to the hallowed ground memorialized by Lincoln. While I am a solid proponent of Capitalism, the citizens of Gettysburg have spent decades exploiting the fascination people have with the battle oft described as the turning point of the Civil War. Truly, it is anything for a buck!


The worst offenders, in my humble opinion, are the hawkers of the nightly paranormal tours led by inaccurately attired guides and shop keepers who sell clothes, uniforms, hats, accessories and “relics” that nobody in the mid-19th Century would recognize.  While one must truly question why the general public is so gullible that thousands of people turn over hard earned dollars to charlatans who lead them on ghost tours or those who blindingly accept that what is for sale must be authentic, I am more offended that the city leaders do not require the tour operators to at least make an effort to represent how the original actors looked.

Tourist Trap en route to Gettysburg on Route 30

I want to send out thanks and appreciation for those who dedicate themselves to the preservation of our heritage. In particular, Todd & I are grateful that we had the privilege of participating in the dedication of an ambulance, donated by our friends Phil and Amy Spaugy, to the Seminary Ridge Museum on the 1st anniversary of the museum’s opening – a museum dedicated to commemorating the first day of the battle on July 1, 1863 – the fateful day that saw the last March of the Iron Brigade and the death of General Reynolds.

Dedication of Ambulance donated by Phil & Amy Spaugy, 7/01/2014

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