July 1, 1913 4:30 P.M.
The Veterans’ Day ceremonies in the Great Tent are now concluded. Highlights from the various speeches include:
– Colonel Schoonmaker declaring “The honor falls to me, as chairman of the Pennsylvania State Commission, of presiding at the opening exercises of a celebration unparalleled in the history of the world.”
– G.A.R. Chaplain-in-Chief Lovejoy proclaimed “All that has been painful in our past we would forget in our holier, happier impulses of the present; in our loftier ideals and purposes for the future. We humbly implore Thee that this tie that binds us together as a great and free people may be strengthened by this our assembling.”
– Secretary of War Garrison noted “The war that followed had no element of wantonness, or aggrandizement, or lust of gain; and no men of purer spirit ever lived than those who waged it upon the respective sides.”
– Governor Tener echoed Colonel Schoonmaker’s declaration and proclaimed “We meet on this occasion to participate in a ceremony that stands unmatched in all recorded time.”
– G.A.R. Commander-in-Chief Beers declared that the Battle of Gettysburg was “one in which the carnage exceeded that of any battle of modern time, and presaged the beginning of the end” and went on to proclaim that ‘The survivors of those great armies meet today, not with arms in hand as in those days now so happily passed, but as citizens of a united country, which has risen triumphant from the desolation of war, and within whose borders no alarms of war or sounds of discord arise.”
– U.C.V. Commander-in-Chief Young brought many a tear to the eyes of the veterans when he declared “Those who fought then now meet as friends. They grasp each other’s hands; they look kindly face to face. War’s animosities are forgotten; the noise of battle is hushed. Peace waves its wand over these bloodstained hills and cries out to war: ‘Be still.'”
Veterans, Blue and Gray alike, filed out of the Great Tent following the ceremonies – many of them arm in arm with a former enemy – and sentiment was unanimous that the ceremony just witnessed was truly one for the ages and as fitting as any could have been for this 50th anniversary commemoration.
Between June 29th and July 4th, 2013 our posts will come to us courtesy of the “blogging time machine” we have secretly and mysteriously sent a century into the past to the site of the Great Reunion at Gettysburg.