Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourth of July, 1913

The Great Reunion of 1913 "commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the subsequent years of relative peace and harmony (save a 'splendid little war' with Spain that lasted only four months)" and was "the largest gathering ever of Civil War veterans, who came together for a week of solidarity and celebration" — Battle Scars. More:
    It’s astounding only nine people died. Each day had a scheduled program of speeches and meals and activities, but inevitably there was a lot of dangerous in-between time with nothing to do but reminisce. There was an incident in which an old blue coat and an old gray went at each with forks, and on July 2 seven men were stabbed in a hotel bar when someone made a disparaging remark about Lincoln. All this reminiscing forced the State Health Department to order town saloons to shut down no later than 11 p.m.

    More than 200,000 tourists and journalists flooded Gettysburg to witness the spectacle, not to mention the Red Cross, the Army, and hundreds of Boy Scouts. The pressure to perform the rites of unity must have been intense. Some just decided it would be best to go home early but a number of the veterans managed to lose their return tickets. Finally, the Governor of Pennsylvania decided the State would pay for anyone who wanted to leave.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.