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The First Time

Gettysburg area barn
Gettysburg farm and large, red barn with colorful, autumn trees

The First Time

Chatting with folks that love Gettysburg, one of the first things I ask them is what impressions or feelings did they have when they visited the park for the first time…

What’s interesting is how often their impressions or feelings resemble what I experienced visiting the area for the first time.

That would have been in the early 1970’s when my parents incorporated a Gettysburg-portion of our trip while visiting the sites of south-western Pennsylvania.

And while I can’t be certain, I believe the only reason they did it was for me… my younger sister certainly had no interest in the Civil War.

But me? I had been through all the Civil War-related books at our school library with the “American Heritage Picture Book of the Civil War” being the one that pushed me over the edge into a full-fledged Civil War enthusiast (we offer this book for sale on our Products Page).

I remember getting a tingling feeling as we approached Gettysburg. And as I saw my first canon and monument– the feelings I had? I can only liken it a religious experience. I don’t mean for that to sound so over the top, but truly that’s the only thing I can compare it to. It would be like a die-hard Yankee fan going to Yankee Stadium for the first time.

Did the park meet the expectations of a 10 year-old Civil War enthusiast?

Met and greatly exceeded.

However here’s what’s truly great about the park– Gettysburg is far more than the battlefield, the museums and the monuments.

And keep in mind this was the 1970’s, this was before Ken Burn’s landmark series captured the imaginations of millions across the country. This was before the very popular 125th anniversary of the battle and the equally popular 150th anniversary of the battle.

There simply wasn’t the “Civil War Mania” that one finds now.

But that didn’t diminish the Civil War Feeling the entire area had then– and continues to have today.

You see the battlefield attracts the enthusiast, but the town, the shopping, the restaurants and the people cause the non-enthusiast to fall in love with Gettysburg also.

Feel free to share your “First Time” thoughts…

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