Gettysburg, a historic town in the state of Pennsylvania, is well-known for the Gettysburg National Battlefield. History lovers travel from near and far to see the famous site. Each November on Remembrance Day, Gettysburg commemorates the establishment of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery—which dedicated 17 acres to bury more than 3,500 fallen Union soldiers.
Around 85,000 Union Army soldiers and about 75,000 Confederate Army soldiers fought in the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863. A total of 51,000 soldiers became casualties in what remains the largest battle of the American Civil War and the biggest battle ever fought in North America: Approximately 569 tons of ammunition were fired during the three days of fighting.
On November 18, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg by train to attend the dedication ceremony for the cemetery the next day. He delivered the Gettysburg Address, which eloquently honored those who fought and died at Gettysburg; it continues to be one of the most revered speeches in American history.
You'll find the Gettysburg National Battlefield, part of Gettysburg National Military Park, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Washington, D.C.
Dedication Day and Remembrance Day events
Various events—free and open to the public—allow Gettysburg residents and visitors to commemorate the sacrifices made during and after the battle.
- Dedication Day: On Nov. 19, 2020, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address will be commemorated and the Dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery will take place. The ceremonies begin at the cemetery with a wreath-laying; the annual event typically features a keynote speaker. The date was formally designated as Dedication Day by a joint resolution of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 1946. This event is sponsored by the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg College, and the Gettysburg Foundation.
- Remembrance Day Parade: This parade in Lincoln Square, downtown Gettysburg, on Nov. 21, 2020, features Civil War living history groups. The annual Remembrance Day Parade—sponsored by the Sons of Veterans Reserve, the Military Department of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War—starts on Middle Street, heads over to Baltimore Street, and then goes onto Steinwehr Avenue. The best place to watch is at the corner of Baltimore and Steinwehr Avenue.
- Annual Remembrance Day Illumination: On Nov. 21, 2020, the Annual Remembrance Day Illumination will take place at the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg. The ceremony features the lighting of a luminary candle on each of the 3,512 Civil War soldier's graves. Throughout the evening, the names of the fallen soldiers will be read in this event sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation.