Little Round Top, Gettysburg Battlefield
November in Gettysburg is the perfect time for reflection: To look back on our history. To look forward to the future.
It is at this time we reflect on President Lincoln’s November 1863 visit to Gettysburg to dedicate the Gettysburg National Cemetery and the immortal speech he delivered. His words seem more relevant now than ever before.
To commemorate the spirit of the Gettysburg Address and to honor those who gave the “last full measure of devotion,” the Gettysburg Foundation will host the 18th Annual Remembrance Day Illumination on Nov. 21 (weather permitting) from 5:30-9 p.m. in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. This solemn event is a striking reminder of the sacrifices made and the strength and resilience of the American spirit.
The event features a luminary candle placed on all 3,512 Civil War soldiers’ graves in the cemetery. Pre-registered Friends of Gettysburg Volunteers gather to light candles, and as darkness falls, the illuminated graves provide a striking silhouette against the November sky. As the names of every Civil War soldier are read aloud, Taps is sounded every half hour.
It is a very moving and humbling experience.
While many of the traditional events commemorating Dedication Day and Remembrance Day will be presented virtually this year, guests can still experience the Remembrance Day Illumination in person. The nature of this outdoor event encourages solitude and social distancing. There is no formal gathering of individuals throughout the evening, and guests can walk freely around the cemetery at their own pace.
As we honor the veterans of our past with the Illumination, the Gettysburg Foundation will also show our appreciation for current veterans. On Nov. 12, we, in partnership with Gettysburg National Military Park, will host Veterans Appreciation Day at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center. Veterans are invited to enjoy complimentary admission to the Film, Cyclorama & Museum Experience and have the unique opportunity to see the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting with the “lights up” and illuminated in its full brilliance. This is just a small token of our lasting appreciation for our veterans and the sacrifices they make for us. As always active U.S. military personnel enjoy free admission, year-round.
As we head into November 2020, we can reflect on this year, our struggles, our resilience and our dedication to a better tomorrow. Fortunately for us, we are in Gettysburg. We have the unique opportunity to step outside, surrounded by some 6,000 acres of our nation’s complex history, and gain inspiration. We have the chance to be renewed by the stories and sacrifices of varying types of Americans—soldiers and civilians—who fought for our freedom in some capacity. We can walk these hallowed grounds and explore museums and be reminded that our country has been through divisiveness and heartbreak and devastation before, and we can come out stronger if we remain united.
We are fortunate to be in Gettysburg, especially in November.
Vice President for Advancement & Communications, Gettysburg Foundation
First appeared in the Gettysburg Foundation's column in the Oct. 26, 2020, edition of the Gettysburg Times.