July 4, 1913 8:00 P.M.
The encampment grounds here at Gettysburg, on our nation’s birthday, still look much the same as they have for the past week, but they are much emptier than they have been. Many, perhaps most, veterans have now departed for their homes following the concluding ceremonies earlier today at noon. Still many others have departed along the way, staying only for a day or two or three. And as sadly reported several days ago, some were forced to depart very soon after arriving on June 30th because of the shortage of tents and sleeping cots.
Still, some veterans remain in camp until tomorrow and perhaps even the next day. Some field kitchen facilities will remain open for all meals through breakfast next Sunday, July 6th.
One can easily see how some veterans are reluctant to depart. This Great Reunion to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg has been praised time and again by speakers and newspapers as an event unmatched in the history of the world. The camaraderie shown by veterans of the Blue and Gray towards each other has surpassed anything expected. True, the war is now nearly fifty years in the past but that war permanently scarred so many of these men, physically or mentally or both; and to see these old men in the twilight of their years put aside grievances and the toll taken on their youth and their lives has been a sight for all time. One can only imagine how some of these men wish to hold onto this occasion for a short while longer.
We can only hope – to borrow yet at the same time convert words used by our President Lincoln nearly fifty years ago, so soon after those terrible three days of battle – that the world will long note and remember what these men did here during this gathering. They have now concluded their great task, and it is for us to resolve that the spirit of brotherhood shown by these men shall not perish from the earth.
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.