Each year thousands of people go to watch or take part in the Memorial Day Parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Gettysburg Memorial Day Parade is a major attraction for veterans, patriots and history buffs because it dates back to the conclusion of the Civil War, and Gettysburg was the location of a conflict that involved more men than any other of battle of that war.
The Memorial Day Parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is one of longest running continuous Memorial Day parades in the United States. Held every year since 1867, the parade and many of the events throughout the weekend are sponsored by the Gettysburg Joint Veterans Memorial Day Commission. The first parade in Gettysburg was held shortly after the Civil War and many of its traditions relate to that period of American history. The actual Battle of Gettysburg took place in July 1863.
The parade forms on Lefever Street and proceeds west on East Middle Street and then south on Baltimore Street. On Baltimore it enters through the Baltimore Street Gate to the Gettysburg National Cemetery. There is an annual service at the Soldiers National Monument following the parade. Escort for Memorial Day activities in Gettysburg is provided by the Pennsylvania State Police, Cumberland Township Police, Gettysburg Borough Police and the Patriot Guard. At the conclusion of the 45 minute parade, guests are bused to the Gettysburg National Cemetery for a Memorial Day program.
Since 2004, the organizers of Gettysburg's Memorial Day Parade have invited wounded veterans to Gettysburg to take part in the Memorial Day parade and other observances. The injured veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center are honored in a ceremony at Gateway Gettysburg. The program features several speakers, after which the public meets the veterans. The veterans are given a tour of the Gettysburg battlefield and are treated to lunch at Wyndham Gettysburg.
Some traditions of the Memorial Day parade in Gettysburg focus on the Civil War, a pivotal period of history. The Gettysburg parade is lead by a regiment of Union soldiers, and at the 2011 parade they were accompanied by Confederate representatives carrying a Confederate flag and United States flag. The parade enters the Gettysburg National Cemetery and actors playing Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis met parade participants. Lincoln is known to have given his famous Gettysburg Address "New Birth of Freedom" at the site after the conclusion of the war.
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