Summers in Gettysburg are special. Merchants prepare for the season. The town and battlefield bustle with tourists. We welcome back families and Friends returning to take in history and relive a bit of their own nostalgic experiences. Gettysburg National Military Park has resumed its extremely popular Ranger walks, talks and hikes throughout the summer, and the Museum & Visitor Center is open daily.
This July 1-3, we commemorate the 158th anniversary of the great battle, and it is only appropriate that we observe it with renewed tributes to our shared history and anticipation of a brighter future.
Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation will kick off the anniversary with a new Gettysburg Anniversary Lecture Series at the Museum & Visitor Center starting on July 1 with the return of acclaimed stage and screen actor and long-time Gettysburg advocate, Stephen Lang. Lang will perform his Gettysburg-inspired story, The Wheatfield, as well as premiere recitation of his latest work.
On July 2, we turn our attention to Culp’s Hill, the area of the battle’s most sustained combat, currently undergoing a rehabilitation effort to make the site more accessible. “Culp’s Hill Rediscovered” will give ticket holders an inside look at the battle, memory and rehabilitation with panel experts NPS Ranger Troy Harman, NPS Archeologists Erik Krusch and Tara Noel and historians and guides Sue Boardman and Charlie Fennell.
The anniversary programming concludes July 3, as I present one of my favorite topics, “Shot and Shell: The US Regular Army Artillery During Pickett’s Charge.”
We look forward to presenting to those who were able to obtain the free tickets going quickly as I write this piece.
Summer also means the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital is open with opportunities to walk the grounds and hear the stories of the family farm suddenly overtaken by the urgent medical needs resulting from the battle. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 15, the George Spangler Farm features living historians to share experiences of the civilians, surgeons, nurses and soldiers who lived, worked and fought here during the battle. On July 1-3, we will host a special battle anniversary opening of the historic site. In addition to living history programming, actor Stephen Lang will be on-site July 2 for a special reading of his children’s book, The Wheatfield, that afternoon. Admission to the site is included with your Museum & Visitor Center ticket or Friends membership.
Summer’s end will not end the activity. On Sept. 4, we open Children of Gettysburg 1863. Following major renovations at the Rupp House, the brand-new interactive adventure for young historians is designed for families and children in grades K-5. Children of Gettysburg 1863 will allow families to experience Gettysburg stories through the words of children, teens and young adults who lived here during the battle. Our new children’s history museum will be Gettysburg’s most family-friendly history adventure, and one we are pleased to unveil in promoting life-long learning and love for history.
We are excited for a fully open summer of activities. We encourage you to take time to reflect, remember and celebrate. Walk the battlefield for inspiration. Visit the shops of friends and neighbors. Welcome our guests back to town. And, take part in the history programming available to you.
After all, it is summer. And this, is Gettysburg.
President, Gettysburg Foundation
First appeared in the Gettysburg Foundation's column in the June 28, 2021, edition of the Gettysburg Times.