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Official Grand Opening – New Gettysburg Visitors Center

The entrance way to the new multi-million dollar Visitors Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park was lined with hundreds of small American flags.
Background post – Restored Gettysburg Cyclorama to Reopen.
My oldest son and grandson spent Saturday afternoon, September 27, with me in Gettysburg at the new Gettysburg Visitors Center. We got tickets from the 3:15 showing of the “A New Birth of Freedom” movie (featuring the voices of Morgan Freeman and Sam Waterston, among others) and the restored Cyclorama. We took a few photographs to share with Cannonball readers.

Hundreds of reenactors were in town for the various festivities. Here, at the entrance to the VC, Professor Scott L. Mingus, Jr. of Harrisburg Community College and his son pause while a company files past them toward the expansive parking lots (which were filled to capacity much of the afternoon).

Author and college professor Dr. Gabor Boritt of Gettysburg College was the featured book signer at the Museum Book Store. A couple of weeks ago, Gabor escorted President George W. Bush around the Gettysburg Battlefield (photo in the upper right of this picture). Crowds in the bookstore were quite large, and many had their arms loaded with merchandise and books. The VC now carries all three of my non-wargaming books.

The dining saloon at the new Visitors Center was packed all afternoon. This shot was taken at 2:30 and you can see the crowds, many of which were awaiting their turn to use the timed tickets to see the movie and restored Cyclorama.
Another popular attraction was Lincoln’s fifth hand-written copy of the Gettysburg Address, this one the copy penned in 1864 by the President at the request of orator Edward Everett. It was displayed this week in the new VC on loan from the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

My favorite Civil War band, the 2nd South Carolina String Band, was on hand to entertain patrons. The free concert was capped off with a very lively rendition of Dixie, with an audience sing-along for the final verse. My little grandson was tapping along with the band. These guys were my late father’s favorite group as well, from the times we heard them play at the annual Mansfield, Ohio, Civil War Artillery and Relics Show.

The restored Cyclorama was simply outstanding. The painting has been cleaned and is much more vibrant in coloration now. Hung in the original hyperbolic shape and with the missing sky sections added back, and with an impressive sound track, the cyclorama is well, well worth a visit. The show only lasts 13 minutes, but it is much better than the old exhibition in the eyesore that is the Richard Neutra-designed concrete mess of an old VC. (Rip it down – it’s not worth preserving as it is so ugly.)