The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

How did the Centennial of Gettysburg go?

Remarkably, the heat was as oppressive as ever. Both July 1863 and July 1913 had been oppressive, but July 1963 was even worse, with the mercury hitting ninety-eight degrees in New York City.

This time there were, of course, no veterans: most of the people who came to Gettysburg in 1963 came with fresh eyes. There was, equally, a determination not to let the Centennial be overshadowed by the things that had plagued the celebrations of 1961. To that end, the Centennial organizers went out of their way to establish connections between the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and the world of 1963. Several speakers waxed about the Cold War with the Soviet Union, declaring that American values had been demonstrated in 1863 and would prove sufficient for the task a century later. Pennsylvania Governor Scranton added a rather dark note, saying that one hundred years after Gettysburg, America still was not truly integrated. When the pounding rains came a day later—yet another way that history repeated itself—most people agreed that the Centennial had gone off rather well.


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