Gettysburg is remembered as the site of one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. With more than 51,000 casualties over the course of three days, the encounter was anything but civil.
So we, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint and of fair dealing...
President Theodore Roosevelt
Memorial Day, May 30, 1904
War rarely is.
And, while addressing a Memorial Day crowd at Gettysburg in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt reminded the audience of the lessons of the battlefield and the need for “honesty,” “self-restraint” and “fair dealing” as keys to preserving our country’s greatness.
We are not as divided now as we were in 1863, but as it was in Roosevelt’s time, the need for civility continues today.
Gettysburg reminds us that we can be civil and resolve our differences even in the most difficult circumstances:
Here, where you contended in mortal combat a half century ago, you meet today to clasp each other’s hand in warm embrace and to extoll the virtues in each other found.
Congressman J. Hampton Moore (Pa.)
50th Anniversary of the Battle, 1913
- Following the July 1 fighting along Oak Ridge and Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg citizen J.F. McKentrick used the large spring at the Samuel Cobean farm to fill canteens and provide water to wounded soldiers from both armies.
- In Gettysburg teenager Liberty Augusta Hollinger’s personal recollections of the battle, the then-16-year-old recalled her mother as “tireless in her willingness to bake and work and to carry cheer and comfort to the suffering soldiers” of both North and South.
- In Lydia Ziegler Clare’s account of the battle and its aftermath, the then-13-year-old Gettysburg resident recalled her family providing food and “some little act of kindness” to the wounded and dying on both sides.
Whether it’s in preserving our democracy, dealing with each other in a fair and constructive manner or remembering our past and how we should commemorate it, we know we can be civil.
Gettysburg inspires. We know we can come together even after the most horrific conflicts. We know we can preserve our greatness.
We know we can be civil.
It’s another way to look at Gettysburg and ourselves. This is Gettysburg Revisited.