Events at Gettysburg

Gettysburg, where Union and Confederate forces clashed during a pivotal battle of the Civil War, will be bustling with 200 special programs from June 29 to July 7 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle.

The events, sponsored by the Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation, include Civil War talks and book signings and National Park Service Ranger, battlefield experience and children's programs as well as overview hikes and more than 500 Civil War reenactors staging encampments and firing demonstrations.

The commemorative ceremony called "Gettysburg: A New Birth of Freedom" will be held at 8 p.m. on June 30 and feature Pulitzer prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as the keynote speaker and a performance of the national anthem by country music artist Trace Adkins.

The United States Military Academy Orchestra will perform and the 3d U.S. Infantry will provide a color guard and a 21-gun salute with howitzers.

The highlight of the event will be "Voices of History," a dramatic reading of eyewitness accounts written by soldiers and citizens swept into the events of the battle and its tragic aftermath.

The ceremony ends with a procession to the Soldiers' National Cemetery to see luminaries marking each of the more than 3,500 graves of soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Another highlight of the nine days of programs will be at 3 p.m. on July 3 when National Park Rangers lead the Pickett's Charge Commemorative March across nearly one mile of open fields.

The special program offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Confederate soldiers who made this fateful attack from Seminary Ridge or to stand on the ground defended by Union soldiers on Cemetery Ridge.

The march begins with the firing of artillery at 3 p.m. and ends at the High Water Mark along the Union line with a playing of echo taps along Cemetery Ridge by buglers in both U.S. and Confederate uniforms.

This summer, for the first time ever, visitors can tour the George Spangler farm that served as a field hospital for more than 1,900 wounded Union and Confederate troops.

The site will be open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August 18. Access is free and by shuttle bus only from the Museum and Visitor Center. Tickets are required, available at the Museum and Visitor Center.

National Park Service Ranger programs on from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 4 will explore Civil War medicine and the experiences of the wounded at the farm. Access is free and by shuttle bus only from the Museum and Visitor Center. No tickets necessary on July 4.

Programs and events will showcase Gettysburg as a defining event in the Civil War and the war's legacy in our continuing struggle for civil rights.

"The battle of Gettysburg changed the course of the American Civil War and the history of this nation," said Bob Kirby, Superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park. "Soldiers and civilians in Gettysburg witnessed some of the most dramatic and horrific scenes of the war and these special programs provide an opportunity for us to explore their struggle and sacrifice and to better see those who were engaged in it."

"These Gettysburg programs are not a celebration but rather a thoughtful commemoration of the people who were caught up in this cataclysmic confrontation," he said.

Added Joanne Hanley, President of the Gettysburg Foundation: "We invite people of all ages to join us for Gettysburg's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and take part in the special programs and experiences we have planned with the recognition that Gettysburg belongs to a grateful nation, and its capacity to captivate our collective imagination and define and inspire our national character endures."

A full list of programs is available in a commemorative event guide at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor center information desk and is also available at the website:

Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American History.

Information is available at www.nps.gov/gett

The Gettysburg Foundation is a private, non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. The Foundation raised funds for and now operates the Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, which opened in April 2008. In addition to operating the Museum and Visitor Center, the Foundation has a broad preservation mission that includes land, monument and artifact preservation and battlefield rehabilitation-all in support of the National Park Service's goals at Gettysburg.

Information is available at www.gettysburgfoundation.org

*         *        *

Philadelphia

At the Rosenbach Museum and Library an exhibit called "Voices of 1863 - Witnesses to the Civil War" reports on the year's events through the letters and dispatches of President Lincoln, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and others. The event extends through Jan. 5.

*             *            *

Doylestown

In Doylestown, the Mercer Museum has an exhibit through Aug. 25, "Turning Points: Civil War, 1863-1864," portraying the war through the eyes of locals.

Salem

In Salem, N.J., the Salem County Historical Society is holding a yearlong exhibit called "Bitter is the Fruit of the War: Salem County in the Civil War."