Bob and I vacationed in Gettysburg earlier this month. We attended Gettysburg Remembrance Day activities, toured the battlefield, and caught the last few minutes of the Gettysburg Dedication Ceremony. This blog post is about arriving in Gettysburg and Remembrance Day activities.
We departed our home in Warren PA at 12:40 pm on Friday, November 16th. We arrived in Gettysburg at approximately 6:15 pm. We checked in at the Best Western Gettysburg. We spent four nights at this hotel. All four nights were free, as we used reward points for our entire stay.
All in all it was a good travel day. Our only concern was making it safely to Gettysburg. The previous day had brought lots of snow and ice to the area that we drove through on Friday. Gettysburg received 8 inches of snow. We are thankful that the roads were not icy, just wet.
Our hotel room was nice and spacious. We had two queen beds separated by a nightstand, desk and chair, arm chair with ottoman, small round table by the arm chair, three-drawer chest of drawers with a small flat screen TV on top of it, and plenty of lights. The “foyer” had a closet and mini kitchen complete with refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, AND cabinet space. The bathroom door was in the foyer. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the bathroom.
I went to bed at 9:00 pm and, as expected, awakened early the next day. I got up at 4:30 am; Bob was already up.
We went to breakfast at 6:00 am. Breakfast was EXCELLENT, and it is by far the nicest breakfast room we have seen at a hotel. Breakfast included food that we are accustomed to see at Best Western Plus hotels, plus one addition. For the first time ever we saw a pancake maker. It serves two pancakes at once. Bob said the pancakes were good. I had a waffle that first morning (and every morning thereafter). The breakfast room attendant was talkative and provided valuable information about the afternoon’s Remembrance Day parade such as from where to watch the parade, to bring our chairs there early (we had chairs in the car but chose not to use them), and from what side of the street to watch the parade to avoid wind. She also provided the names, locations and type of food served at several nearby restaurants.
Remembrance Day is held each year on a Saturday in November. This year, Remembrance Day was celebrated on November 17th. Remembrance Day honors the soldiers and civilians of the American Civil War. Civil War reenactors have a big parade. There are also numerous side events throughout the battlefield where reenactors honor specific units at their monuments, placing wreaths and holding other ceremonies. At night, there are balls and other gatherings. Weather permitting a luminary candle is lit on each Civil War soldier’s grave.
Being in Gettysburg for Remembrance Day activities it was easy to feel as though time had gone backwards. As I stood (or sat) at our hotel window, I saw many people walking by dressed in the fashion of the early 1860s!
People dressed in the fashion of the 1860s pass by our hotel window.
We went for a walk through a small portion of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where we heard drums and bugles and fifes and saw one large group of Civil War reenactors and a couple smaller groups marching in the Cemetery. The reenactors stopped and honored members of their portrayed units who were killed or died from wounds at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The first Remembrance Day parade was held 62 years ago in 1956, the year that I was born. The parade features Civil War living history groups. The parade lined up on Lefever Street, made a left onto Baltimore Street, right onto Steinwehr Avenue and proceeded up Steinwher Avenue and made a left onto Taneytown Road, up Taneytown Road and then a left onto Cyclorama Drive where the parade dispersed. We watched the parade from Taneytown Road. The parade began at 1:00 pm and lasted just under 35 minutes.
The Remembrance Day parade was really nice, with lots of union and confederate representation, lots of flags, civilians, horses, and at least two Abraham Lincoln’s!
Shortly after 5:00 pm we walked to the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where we walked along a pathway lit with luminary candles. Luminary candles were lit on each of the 3,512 Civil War Union soldier’s graves.
The lighted candles were a beautiful thing to see and a touching tribute to the sacrifices made by these Civil War soldiers.
In my next blog post about our Gettysburg vacation, I will share photographs and details from our battlefield tour.