Featured 1938 Battle of Gettysburg 75th Blue/Grey Reunion.

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by leeg, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    I did a search and did not find anything recent about this. I don't mind sharing some chapters in my book project.

    It will all come together soon. Patience is a virtue. :)

    Gettysburg Poster from eBay 4.png

    A small poster in my Numismatic Library.
    John Rice 1.png

    “The first speaker and master of ceremonies was John Stanley Rice (1899-1985). Rice, who was the primary person responsible for the 1938 75th Anniversary Reunion, and for erecting the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, was a Gettysburg resident. He was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1899. John S. Rice was a Lutheran, a Democrat, a manufacturer, and a prominent fruit grower. He served in the United States Army during World War I and in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. From 1933-1940 he was a State Senator. He lost a bid for Governor in 1946. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1964. He was Secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1958 to 1961. He was chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party from 1959-1961, and from 1965-1966. He was United States Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1961-1964. He was a member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign War, the Freemasons, and the Elks. He is buried in Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery.”1

    1. Adams County Historical Society.

    A Beautiful Dream Realized, John Rice, Peace Memorial.png

    “Washington, D. C., April 3.—A house military affairs sub-committee approved a resolution today creating a national commission to cooperate in celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.

    Chairman Fraddix, Democrat, Pennsylvania, predicted the resolution would receive favorable reaction from the full committee.

    A delegation headed by Representative Harry L. Haines, Red Lion, Democrat, appeared before the sub-committee and urged that the resolution be approved.

    Paul L. Roy, secretary of the Pennsylvania state commission, for observance of the Gettysburg anniversary, told the committee between 2,000 and 3,000 survivors of the battle are expected to attend. He recalled at the fiftieth anniversary of the conflict, Governor Tener of Pennsylvania, invited the veterans to return in twenty-five years.

    ‘Governor Earle is making good on that invitation,’ Roy said.

    Roy, who was accompanied by C. A. Bixler, Gettysburg telephone company official, told the committee it would be unnecessary for the federal government to appropriate any funds for the celebration. Pennsylvania already has made $15,000 available.

    Haines commented on the movement to establish an ‘eternal light peace memorial’ on the battle-ground, for which the state of Virginia already has appropriated $5,000.

    Each of the states has been requested to contribute toward construction of the memorial, which, Haines said, would be a 100-foot shaft, on the pinnacle of which a flame would burn every night.

    Roy told reporters the celebration committee was experimenting with a device to use natural gas for the flame.

    While in Washington Roy and Bixler called on Senator Joseph I. Gulfly, Democrat, Pennsylvania, and discussed plans for the issuance of a commemorative coin for the anniversary.”2

    2. The News-Comet, East Berlin, PA., 1938 Commission of Five Approved, April 10, 1936.

    More to follow. :happy:

    Attached Files:

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  3. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Very nice post. Thank you.
    leeg likes this.
  4. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Well-Known Member

    Awesome! Nice write up...looking forward to the book! Been to many battlefields in my travels...Gettysburg & the Appomattox court house are the 2 places I experience that "feeling". :happy:;)
    Stevearino, leeg and Kevin Mader like this.
  5. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    Thanks very much for this interesting piece of Pennsylvania history.

    Attached Files:

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  6. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Have to decorate the thread with a coin.

    Stevearino, leeg, NSP and 3 others like this.
  7. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    Hey messydesk: Nice, very nice.
    leeg likes this.
  8. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

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  9. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Next part:

    “They came by train like specters of a bygone era. The year was 1938, the average age of the boys in blue and gray was ninety-three, and the 75th anniversary of the battle marked the last great reunion of Union and Confederate veterans on the hallowed fields of Gettysburg. Just over 10,000 veterans of the War Between the States were still alive, representing the last direct links to the four pivotal years that shaped our nation. As this number grew fewer each year, these soldiers and the stories they possessed, faded from living memory into the annals of an ever-changing world. But from June 29th to July 6th, the memories of 1,845 old soldiers came together at Gettysburg.

    The wounds from America’s most terrible conflict were by no means healed by 1938. Sectional and racial divides still ran deep. Several veterans declined their invitations, animosity from a lifetime ago still fresh in their minds. Commissioners had difficulty convincing both the United Confederate Veterans and the Grand Army of the Republic to attend. However, the story of those who refused to come is not the story that survived the test of time.

    Instead, the stories remembered from the 75th anniversary were elderly soldiers in dusty uniforms shaking hands over the stone wall. The story of two veterans, one from the North and the other from the South, helping President Franklin Roosevelt dedicate a monument to peace. Stories like that of ninety-three year old Confederate veteran William H. Freeman, of Wetumka, Oklahoma, who explained to a reporter, ‘We’re here to bury the hatchet and forget all about that little fus,’ and his companion, a Union veteran who sentimentally replied, ‘We’ve done that long ago.’ This was a reunion during which every veteran received both a Union and a Confederate flag. To those who attended, this reunion was about nostalgia, and brotherhood, and the glory of a shared martial past.

    However, for as many veterans declined their invitations due to residual bitterness, many more declined due to poor health. Over 2,000 invitations were returned bearing the word ‘deceased.’ Three more soldiers would reach the reunion, but not make it back home. Every veteran arrived with an attendant, and a small army of Boy Scouts and Pennsylvania National Guardsman were enlisted to help the veterans navigate the reunion. Wheelchairs, buses, and hospitals were prepared, and the commissioners did all they could to ensure the comfort of these aged warriors.

    As these soldiers lived out their twilight years, they watched their world change. The United States had grown, faced and overcome new crises, and been catapulted onto a world’s stage.

    The veterans’ reunion was accompanied with sights such as tanks rolling down the streets of Gettysburg and air shows over the fields where the boys in blue and gray had met a lifetime ago. The world was on the cusp of a new and terrifying conflict, one that would shape another generation. Many of the Boy Scouts and the Guardsmen pushing the veterans’ wheelchairs in 1938 would fight their own war in 1941.

    Even fewer Civil War veterans would live to see the end of America’s next conflict. They were sometimes seen as curiosities, living museum pieces, and men who belonged to an unknowable past. Their chapter had reached its final page, and a return to Gettysburg was an appropriate end to the story. The veterans themselves seemed to recognize this, for near the end of their final reunion, some petitioned the government to allow them to “remain here on this hallowed hill till Gabriel shall call us to that eternal party where there is no strife, bitter hate, nor bloodshed and we are one for all and all for one.”3

    3. All Roads Led to Gettysburg: The 75th Anniversary, by Becky Oakes, 2013.

    DCW Letter 1.png

    Courtesy of DCW on the PCGS Coin Forum.

    “Return of the Blue and the Gray. On June 28, 1938, more than 2,000 veterans began arriving in Gettysburg, headed to Gettysburg National Military Park. July 1, 2, 3, 4 1938, the official celebration of the Blue and the Gray who reunited in 1938 for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg began.

    Most were in their 80s and 90s, staying in two encampments and were ‘given the greatest care and attention’ with dispensaries and first-aid scattered throughout the camp.

    According to The Evening News that day, James Robert Paul of Charlotte, N.C., 105, said he was ‘the oldest Democrat in the country.’ He arrived in Gettysburg ‘as chipper as a lark.’ Paul was the only surviving member of Gen. Stonewall Jackson's 42nd Infantry, Company K.

    The veterans were in town for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Many were in wheelchairs or used canes. They held a reunion for two days before the four-day anniversary celebration. Two died before it was over.

    United States Regular Army soldiers camped there, too. They assisted the veterans.

    The Evening News on June 29 printed this large headline – ‘GETTYSBURG 'TAKEN' BY VETERANS.’ From The Evening News on July 1: ‘Governor George H. Earle of Pennsylvania and Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring this afternoon addressed more than 2,000 aged veterans of the Blue and Gray at the formal opening of exercises commemorating the 75th anniversary of the battle that was the turning point in the Civil War.’

    On Sunday, July 3, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Peace Light Memorial. One Union and one Confederate veteran unveiled the memorial.

    The Evening News published photos of the events every day - including a photo of Susie Bell Bolton, 81, from Dallas, Texas. She attended the reunion of Civil War soldiers with Thomas Rains, a former Texas Ranger, and wrote a poem about the event. According to the newspaper she was a ‘self-styled poet laureate.’

    This is the poem:

    ‘It was seventy-five years ago

    In this little Gettysburg town

    That a terrible battle was fought

    And the Southern cause went down.

    Now our President is giving a party

    We think he's a very fine man

    He tells us to be good neighbors

    And love every one we can.

    The North and South are reunited

    We have come from near and far

    To join our hands in friendship

    And hoping for no more war

    PeaceLight dedication ceremony.png

    Image of the Peace Light dedication ceremonies on July 3, 1863 (sic). The Pennsylvania Highway Patrol estimated that 250,000 people attended the ceremonies, and another 100,000 people were stuck on the roads coming into town and couldn’t make it in time. At the beginning of the broadcast, the radio announcer on the video clip we are providing estimated 75,000 people were in attendance. By the end of the broadcast he estimated the crowd at 150,000. The smaller tent on the right (west) of the monument covered the speaker’s stand. The larger tent to the west covered the dignitaries, including the approximately 1800 veterans who attended the ceremony. Courtesy of The Adams County (PA) Historical Society.

    More to come.
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  10. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    “There’s Still Life in the Old Boys Yet!’ a newspaper article emphatically exclaimed. An accompanying photograph portrayed Union veteran Tim Flaherty, well into his nineties, dancing a jig for his comrades. The year was 1938, the July heat sweltering, and the final grand reunion of the blue and gray well underway. Seventy-five years after the battle of Gettysburg, 1,845 veterans were able to reach the rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania to once more commemorate the defining four years of their generation.

    However, this reunion was different than the others.

    Nearly 775,000 tourists clogged Gettysburg’s narrow alleys, modern military equipment was used to reenact iconic moments of the battle, and over one hundred national press outlets insured the nation was saturated with news concerning the Battle of Gettysburg and its significance, perhaps for the first time since the battle itself. Over the four days of commemoration, the media’s representation of the aging veterans would mirror a fundamental change in the commemoration of the American Civil War. Memorialization would shift from being largely for the veterans to for the nation, and Tim Flaherty and his comrades would be placed firmly into antiquity.


    This is an aerial view of the 75th Anniversary encampment. It was located on the plain between Gettysburg College and Oak Ridge where the 11th Corps fought on July 1, 1863. The Carlisle Road is shown on the left side running into the town of Gettysburg. It intersects with West Howard Avenue, which is the road near the bottom of the image running from northeast to southwest in this photograph. This photograph was taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. This view was taken facing southwest in 1938. Adam County Historical Society.

    One unique characteristic of media coverage concerning the 75th Anniversary was the overemphasis of the veterans’ age. The average age of the attending veterans was ninety-four, and they were all aware that this would be the final Gettysburg reunion. The ‘tent city’ provided for the veterans comfort as much as possible, including a fully functional hospital and over four hundred wheelchairs, complete with Boy Scouts and National Guardsmen to push them. Many veterans invited were forced to decline attending due to poor health, and others were truly risking their lives in order to reach Gettysburg.

    The language used by media outlets stressed this impending mortality with vigor. Terms such as ‘old-timers,’ ‘hobbling,’ and ‘feeble’ were common. One article even commented that the reunion ‘crowded out the thought that the time is closing in and that the remnants of the once proud Union and Confederate armies soon must join their comrades.’ This characterization seemed to survive the ensuing decades, as an article about the anniversary in 1979 referred to it as the ‘graybeard reunion.’ However, even more damaging was the presentation of the veterans as not only aging, but also cartoonish and childlike.

    One headline stated that the ‘Gettysburg Camp Grand Talk Fest for Veterans,’ which went on to describe a ninety-five year old Confederate doing a ‘lively buck and wing dance,’ as well as implying that the only modern day issue concerning Philadelphia resident Allen T. McFarland was the outcome of the Phillies-Giants baseball game. Articles such as these romanticized veterans at best and portrayed them as one-dimensional and simplistic at worst. Even more significantly, the emphasis on age implied that veterans belong to a past era, instead of as a part of modern society.

    The impetus for organizing this reunion was not from the veterans or the veteran’s organizations, but from local and state commissioners under the leadership of Gettysburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Secretary Paul Roy. Hoping to renew interest in the lucrative practice of reunions and monument building which characterized the late 19th century, Roy saw the anniversary as an opportunity to ‘sell’ Gettysburg to the nation. Obviously, a considerably smaller number of veterans attended the 75th Anniversary in comparison to the 50th, but another key difference lay in the significantly larger number of tourists in 1938. Automobile travel, improved highways, and increased focus on catering to families ensured both access to Gettysburg and an enjoyable experience upon arrival. Interactions between the visiting families and the few remaining elderly veterans were largely for the benefit of the tourists searching for an authenticated experience of the past. In many ways, veterans became integral to creating a unique experience for visitors as part of a commemorative landscape.”4

    4 Civil Discourse, a Blog of the Long Silver war Era, by Regekah Oakes, January 01, 2015.
  11. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    Thanks for a very interesting piece of American history. I look forward to the day your book comes out.
    leeg likes this.
  12. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    A wonderful and clear set of what really took place here. Thank you.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
    leeg likes this.
  13. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Thank you all.

    Things are not progressing as I had hoped.

    I may just throw it out their for all. Regardless of spelling, etc. I'm no English Major.
    I graduated ninth grade and that's as far as I went in my high school education. I did get my GED when I first joined the US Navy in 1974. I did some college course work since then.

    Making money is not my goal, history, people involved, and truthfulness of events, as far as known, is.

  14. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    You're doing just find and personally, I'm looking forward to more of your posts.
    leeg likes this.
  15. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    I'll second that. You've done a great job and I look forward to more posts. Keep up the good work.
    leeg likes this.
  16. leeg

    leeg I Enjoy Toned Coins

    Thanks guys.

    The history continues:

    roosevelt arrives by train.png

    President Roosevelt arrived at the train station in Gettysburg from his home in Hyde Park, New York. He was in Hyde Park from June 28th through July 2nd. Except for a Press Conference on June 28th and a visit from the Crown Princess of Sweden on July 1st, he did not have any official duties listed on his schedule. This view was taken facing southeast on Sunday, July 3, 1938. Courtesy of the Adams County Historical Society.

    DCW Letter 4.png

    Courtesy of DCW on the PCGS Coin Forum.

    “To Governor Earle, Veterans of the Blue and the Gray:

    On behalf of the people of the United States I accept this monument in the spirit of brotherhood and peace.

    Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by "The last full measure of devotion" of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.

    It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.

    But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln's nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.

    For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people's government for the people's good.

    The task assumes different shapes at different times. Sometimes the threat to popular government comes from political interests, sometimes from economic interests, sometimes we have to beat off all of them together.

    But the challenge is always the same—whether each generation facing its own circumstances can summon the practical devotion to attain and retain that greatest good for the greatest number which this government of the people was created to ensure.

    Lincoln spoke in solace for all who fought upon this field; and the years have laid their balm upon their wounds. Men who wore the blue and men who wore the gray are here together, a fragment spared by time. They are brought here by the memories of old divided loyalties, but they meet here in united loyalty to a united cause which the unfolding years have made it easier to see.

    All of them we honor, not asking under which flag they fought then—thankful that they stand together under one flag now.

    Lincoln was commander-in-chief in this old battle; he wanted above all things to be commander-in-chief of the new peace. He understood that battle there must be; that when a challenge to constituted government is thrown down, the people must in self-defense take it up; that the fight must be fought through to a decision so clear that it is accepted as being beyond recall.

    But Lincoln also understood that after such a decision, a democracy should seek peace through a new unity. For a democracy can keep alive only if the settlement of old difficulties clears the ground and transfers energies to face new responsibilities. Never can it have as much ability and purpose as it needs in that striving; the end of battle does not end the infinity of those needs.

    That is why Lincoln—commander of a people as well as of an army—asked that his battle end ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all.’

    To the hurt of those who came after him, Lincoln's plea was long denied. A generation passed before the new unity became accepted fact.

    In later years new needs arose, and with them new tasks, worldwide in their perplexities, their bitterness and their modes of strife. Here in our land we give thanks that, avoiding war, we seek our ends through the peaceful processes of popular government under the Constitution.

    It is another conflict, a conflict as fundamental as Lincoln's, fought not with glint of steel, but with appeals to reason and justice on a thousand fronts—seeking to save for our common country opportunity and security for citizens in a free society. We are near to winning this battle. In its winning and through the years may we live by the wisdom and the humanity of the heart of Abraham Lincoln.”6

    6. Collection: Public Papers & Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    A Beautiful Dream Realized, John Rice, Peace Memorial 2.png
    The end. Hope you enjoyed this chapter/history lesson.
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  17. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    The end. Hope you enjoyed this chapter/history lesson.

    Yes I did. Thank you. I was just about to log off when it popped up. So glad I read it. Roosevelt's words about Lincoln make it easy to see why Lincoln is still loved today.
    leeg likes this.
  18. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    Well done and thank you. This is an excellent presentation and worthy of reading.
    leeg likes this.
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