On the Friday before Mother’s Day the older two took dear old mom to Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, now I know that might not seem like much of a gift to some women, but to me, it was the perfect gift. I had been at the old building many times through out the years, the musty smell, the artillery sitting in the center of the building, the electric map, all burned such vivid memories in my mind, I had wondered if the new building would do this historic town justice, or would it be something new and flashy without much substance? I had nothing to fear, the new building fits right in with the area. Built to look like a barn, this building welcomes history buffs, casual on lookers and students, to learn about those three fateful days in early July when the fate of our country hung in the balance, as those in the blue and the gray fought for their version of freedom.
We walked in and got our tickets to see the movie, A New Birth of Freedom, the Cyclorama and the actual museum it’s self. We were able to get to see the next viewing of the movie, a good introduction to what led up to Gettysburg and the battle when the two armies converged. (As the season gets busier you might want to make reservations ahead of time) After the movie we were able to view the cyclorama and enjoy the presentation there. This beautiful picture makes the battle come to life, the noise of the artillery, and the shouts of men and horses upset by the noises of war. To stand there and listen to this drama unfold gives you a taste of what those brave men must have felt like on that battlefield. The twins felt it gave them more appreciation for those who fought on this hollowed ground.
When we had finished walking around the cyclorama we made our way to the museum to read about the history of this time period. There are headlines from the papers of the day, listing the battles. There are editorials from the major papers on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The uniforms of the day, tents, guns, munitions, swords are all on display to give you an idea of the daily life. There are well-preserved letters to home, even a dresser with stray bullet holes in it.
Also available, but not something we took advantage of this time, are tours of the battlefield, you can take a tour bus or have your own person tour guide go with you in your car. I think when the younger two get older, we’ll opt for that. I remember when my parents had taken us (Hubby was just my boyfriend then) to Gettysburg and we went on a guided walking tour. The gentleman who did the tour was an incredible wealth of knowledge, well worth the cost.
All in all we were very impressed with the new visitor center and museum. The bookstore has so many wonderful books to help you understand those brave men who fought on both sides of the war. You can also purchase a CD there to do the auto tour on your own, you’ll notice the signs with white stars on them as you’re driving around town. If you live close enough to the area and you school age child is going on a fieldtrip, volunteer to be a chaperone. If you’re looking for a nice place to take the family on a camping trip go to Woodalls, pick a campground and immerse yourself in the rich history of Gettysburg.