The National Park Service’s Eastern Area Incident Management Team met last week in Gettysburg National Military Park to continue planning efforts for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Team members met with Gettysburg park staff, representatives from the Gettysburg Foundation and community partners to coordinate the organization, staffing, logistics, and safety needs associated with the event. The primary focus of the meetings was on the peak period of commemorative events from June 30th through July 4th.
“This is probably one of the largest and most complex events for us to plan,” said Zeph Cunningham, the team’s incident commander, comparing it to the recent Presidential inauguration and the Hurricane Sandy response. “Safety is our number one priority. We are working closely with local and state officials to plan for safety and security at the events.”
With over 200 programs planned, ranging from key moment programs to living history camps, visitor opportunities abound. Events include
The “Gettysburg: A New Birth of Freedom” commemorative ceremony on June 30th, featuring keynote speaker and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, country music artist Trace Adkins, and the United States Military Academy Orchestra. The ceremony will include music, the keynote address, and "Voices of History," a dramatic reading of eyewitness accounts written by soldiers and citizens swept into the events of the battle and its tragic aftermath.
A procession to the Soldiers' National Cemetery following the ceremony to see luminaries marking each of the more than 3,500 graves of soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Pickett's Charge commemorative march on July 3rd, which will offer visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Confederate soldiers who made this fateful attack from Seminary Ridge or to stand on the ground defended by Union soldiers on Cemetery Ridge.
“Kudos to all staff who contributed to the IMT gathering here last week,” said Bob Kirby, the park’s superintendent, following the five-day planning session. “I was very impressed with the team's professionalism, thoroughness and diligence-to-task. The park staff responded accordingly, yielding a very comprehensive planning experience that will position us well for the upcoming sesquicentennial season.”