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Vets at Gettysburg’s 75th: ‘Some wore their military caps and medals on their tunics’

Vandalism at the Peace Light Memorial, one of Gettysburg’s most honored landmarks. Background: Donations help to repair damaged Gettysburg statues and Headline: ‘Beards on Parade at Gettysburg (Battle) Field’ and York County historical war deaths top 1,000.

In a letter to the editor, C. Earl Witmer of Spring Garden Township tied together recent vandalism on Gettysburg’s Eternal Peace Light Memorial and the special memories held by many local residents toward the landmark.
Many senior citizens were children or teens when they witnessed the dedication ceremony on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Many remember meeting vets of the conflict, which suggests how young our country really is. People today have actually shaken hands with Civil War veterans.
Here are Earl Witmer’s memories:

“I was very saddened to read about the senseless vandalism inflicted on the Eternal Peace Light Memorial in Gettysburg. This feeling is only heightened by the fact that I was present for that august ceremony on July 3, 1938.
“A fellow caddie and myself, both age 13, were invited to join a Hanover Country Club member couple for the 75th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg and the accompanying dedication and lighting of the Peace Light Memorial by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“I now know there were 1,800 veterans in attendance ranging in age from 88 to 112. I saw a number of them when I visited their camp. Many of the Union and Confederate vets were in wheelchairs, the majority very frail and were aided by a cane or family members. I recall some wore their military caps and medals on their tunics.
“To me it will always remain the most awe-inspiring patriotic occasion of my life. The auto trip from Hanover to Gettysburg and return is also vividly recalled for another reason: It was my first ride in a luxury automobile, a red convertible Lincoln Continental!