First the good: Earlier this month Gettysburg National Military Park was honored when the head of our monument preservation team received a national award for excellence for the care of monuments, cannon, plaques, fences, headstones and signs.
All the monuments and cannon at Gettysburg are commemorative features left behind by the veterans who fought here. The monuments have a story to tell you. We want you to visit Gettysburg to learn more about what happened here and why it still matters today.
Now for the bad and the ugly: In the last ten years, bad drivers and terrible weather have nearly demolished a number of Gettysburg’s historic monuments. This blog takes a look at seven monuments badly damaged since 2003. These have all been repaired.
Once again, ALL of these monuments have been repaired. Gettysburg’s monuments and cannon still have preservation problems though. We need your help. Occasionally, heedless actions by park visitors create concerns. These seemingly minor impacts add up when you think about the park’s more than one million visitors each year and the fact that we have been welcoming visitors since prior to 1895. Three particular actions have a way of making the job of the National Park Service – preserving Gettysburg resources unimpaired for future generations – more difficult.
Rubbing O’Rourke’s nose – Hand oils and constant rubbing wear away the patina giving it the shiny look, which changes the original commemorative intent of the monument. (Col. Patrick O’Rourke on the 140th New York Infantry monument at Little Round Top.)
Coins placed on headstones and monuments – Over time the chemical breakdown of the coins could have a negative impact on the stone, staining.
Climbing on carriages – Gettysburg’s cast iron cannon carriages are over 100 years old and fragile. They are like your great grandparent. The whole package weighs 2500 pounds+/- (carriages weigh in at 1600+/- and tubes range from 600-1200). You do not want to be near them during a collapse. Climbing on the cannon is dangerous …for lots of reasons.
Please help us by treating these “Silent Sentinels” gently and become our partners in protecting and honoring the monuments to the men who fought Gettysburg.
Finally, a special Happy New Year to all of our “From the Fields of Gettysburg” readers! Thank you for your interest and support for Gettysburg’s history and preservation!
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, 12/24/14