Gettysburg National Cemetery
The Gettysburg National Cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863 to honor the fallen at the Battle of Gettysburg just four months prior. Gettysburg citizens spearheaded the effort to rebury the thousands of Union dead that lay in shallow mass graves around the battlefield. Wind and rain had begun to expose these graves and a strong effort was made to relocate the Union dead to an appropriate Gettysburg cemetery.
The cemetery was founded on land purchased on the top of Cemetery Hill with funds provided by the state of Pennsylvania. The Soldiers National Cemetery as it was called was designed by renowned landscape architect William Saunders. The Gettysburg cemetery was finally completed in 1872 - nine years after the battle that claimed so many American lives.
Although the work on the cemetery was not yet completed at the time of the national dedication ceremony on November 19, 1863, over 10,000 people attended. The keynote speaker was statesman Edward Everett who spoke for 2 hours about the war and the Battle of Gettysburg. The President was in attendance and was asked to supply a few remarks to follow Everett's oratory. The Abraham Lincoln speech would thereafter be known as Lincolns Gettysburg Address.
The cemetery would be expanded in the late 1880's to include new burial sites for residents of the Gettysburg and Pennsylvania. The dead from the Spanish-American War in the late nineteenth century, and veterans of WWI and WWII are buried in the Gettysburg National cemetery. It has been extended right up to the adjacent Evergreen Cemetery, and is bound by private residences so it is now closed to more burials.
Special events are held each year on the grounds including a Memorial Day ceremony and an event to commemorate the November 19 anniversary of its dedication.
Address: 97 Taneytown Road Gettysburg, PA 17325-2804
Contact: (717) 334-5533
Hours: Dawn to dusk year-round
The cemetery is closed to vehicular traffic.
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