The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Private J.W. Culp Camp, and Scott Hancock, got permits today, March 5, 2016, to exercise their first amendment rights at Gettysburg National Military Park. The events took place at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.
The permits were requested under the first amendment of the United States Constitution which grants all citizens the rights to freedom of speech. As custodians of land owned by the American people, the National Park Service has a responsibility to make that land available for exercising those rights. The Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 2.51), the Director’s Orders on Special Park Use and the Management Policies of the National Park Service all provide clear guidance on First Amendment activities in the parks.
The National Park Service mission in preserving and protecting the historic resources at Gettysburg includes making them available to all Americans, even those whose views are contrary to the majority of the American public.
National parks host hundreds of first amendment activities each year, the majority of which take place in our nation’s capital. Some, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, reflect the prevailing mood of the American people, while others deliver a more controversial message whose validity is ultimately judged by the American people. The one constant of all of these assemblies is the professionalism of National Park Service and its staff in administering these activities.
Gettysburg National Military Park staff staffed the event to ensure the safety of everyone involved and to protect park resources and visitors.
Katie Lawhon, management Assistant, March 5, 2016