Even if the greatest battle in the Western Hemisphere hadn’t occurred there, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania would still be an attractive vacation destination. The bucolic community of 3,000 people is complete with lush, verdant hills, brick sidewalks and a quaint liberal arts university and has a small-town charm that borders on the surreal. The battlefield nested on the town’s southern flank can almost be forgotten.
Until, that is, you get onto Tarrytown Road and head towards the field itself. Soon, placards and statues begin to crop along the roadside. Companies, soldiers and generals are all represented by monuments of varying shapes and sizes, ranging from blocks of granite to larger-than-life representations to temples and obelisks.
The stones and earthworks the Union defenders took cover behind during that massive assault on the third and final day still stand. Standing behind the imagine the experience of those men, holding fast under withering fire as a howling wall of gray descended upon them.
Ultimately, that connection to history is the truest attraction of Gettysburg. Besides the natural splendor or the Americana charm, the sense of living and experiencing the past is captured in better in this southern Pennsylvania village than perhaps anywhere else. It is one of the few places where, to paraphrase the Great Emancipator himself, the “mystic chords of memory” become much more than mere abstractions and morph very nearly into the tangible.