The challenges surrounding Gettysburg in 1863 were divisive, difficult and complex. Many of the issues of the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg - including those of equality and race - remain to this day.
However, we can still take inspiration from the stories of Gettysburg.
In this divisive time in our nation's history, the Gettysburg Foundation is committed to advancing a non-partisan, historically-informed message that serves our nation. It is a message of humility, inclusivity, civility and democracy. This is the message of Gettysburg Revisited.
We know Gettysburg as the site of the fierce Civil War battle in 1863.
We think of the blue and the gray; the North and the South.
We think of the three-day battle that resulted in the bloodiest conflict of the war. We think of the more than 51,000 casualties. We think of a cemetery, Lincoln and the historic Gettysburg Address.
We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope on earth.
Annual Message to Congress
December 1, 1862
Lessons from the battle’s chaos, death and destruction warn us and show us how circumstances can dictate difficult choices. Today, Gettysburg brings us together. It reminds us of the profound humanity essential to maintaining our democracy:
- Immediately after the battle, some local residents and volunteers helped care for the injured soldiers of both armies, while others devoted their attention to their families.
- For the 50th anniversary of the battle, more than 50,000 Civil War veterans from both sides returned to Gettysburg for a “celebration of national reconciliation.”
- In the reunion marking the 75th anniversary, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of “united loyalty to a united cause,” at the unveiling of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.
- At his nearby farm, President Eisenhower entertained world leaders in quiet visits during turbulent times.
In a message to Congress around the time he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln observed we Americans could "nobly save or meanly lose" our democracy.
We too live in a challenging time. Divisiveness can make us mean, and as Lincoln warned, it is a threat to lose our democracy–our “last best hope on earth.”
Gettysburg Revisited does not attempt to gloss over these complexities or diminish these issues. But rather it offers an opportunity to reflect and gain inspiration from the battle, from the soldiers, the civilians and the president who confronted the most dire and egregious circumstances.
Yet from Gettysburg, lessons of hope and humanity emerged. These are lessons that comfort. That elevate. That inspire.
These are the lessons for a divisive time.
This is Gettysburg Revisited