Exercising the First Amendment at Gettysburg

IMG_6338The 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 IMG_6300of 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.

IMG_6364The 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.

IMG_6361Gettysburg 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

About The Staff

Staff of Gettysburg National Military Park
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4 Responses to Exercising the First Amendment at Gettysburg

  1. Lee Elder says:

    Freedom of speech includes everyone, even if I don’t like the message. That’s the law. I wasn’t there and don’t know what was said, but I am sure the Park staffers did their jobs in a professional way.

  2. wildninja says:

    Thank you for allowing this. In the past it would not have been controversial to allow a Confederate group to honor their history and ancestors. Sad that in 2016 we practically have to apologize for their presence. I have both Union and Confederate ancestors and because I live in the United States I should always be allowed to honor both. Giving a nod to my Confederate roots does not in any way validate or approve of racism or slavery.

  3. Pingback: Confrontation at the Peace Memorial | Student of the American Civil War

  4. Fred Knauf says:

    I was not present nor was I there so I can never really know what happened on March 5th. Likewise, none of us can really know exactly the feelings, sentiments and drivers of the people in every city and village that drove this nation into the Civil War. We can only hear and read through history but history is written by the living, and usually the victors, so it is never perfect.

    I can’t speak for those protesters and what their family lineage was either. Did they have claim to protest because someone of their past was changed – forever – by the Civil War? How did it change them today? I am a descendent of a man who led his company of the 94th NY to the battle line – in view – from the Peace Light, fighting a three sided attack when the Oak Ridge line was becoming unstable and the 11th Corps was being pushed back. “His” regiment lost 55% of their troops in the battle, my great-great grandfather one of them. He spent 8 months in Libby, and in his “career”, he had three wounds. He served the Union well attaining the rank of Colonel of the 188th by war’s end. He died from the long term effects of one of those wounds in 1894, which never healed and impacted his mobility. Through all those years, it is reported that he never talked of hatred like so many show today.

    Living in NY State my whole life and having all my lineage in the once Empire State, one would think I could be justified to hate the Rebels, their cause and those that still wave their flag of today. But I do not, much like I do not hate descendants of the Romans who slaughtered early members of my Church, the ship owners families of New England – who brought the slaves over to the South, or any other group of the past that led to war, death or persecution. That is all history and we can only learn from it, in an effort to ensure that it does not happen again.

    So a group of southern loyalist types want to celebrate their history and wave their flag. What better place to do it than under the Eternal Peace Light, and area that was their last bastion of prominence before their defeats on July 2 & 3rd? Go and watch, listen and learn, and do so in peace. I’d bet that is what those who actually fought here would want in the end. Brother against brother….remember???

    Super thanks go out to the Park staff for setting up the area, being there to protect and ensure safety of all and of the wonderful Park that preserves so much rich history.

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