At 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 19, 2016, the Sons of Veterans Reserve (SVR), the Military Department of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), conducted their 60th annual Remembrance Day parade in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Thousands of Federal and Confederate Civil War military reenactors and living history civilians participated in the event. The first parade was organized by Elmer F. Adkinson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and others in 1956, and has been conducted every subsequent year to remember the fallen from the 1863 battle of Gettysburg.
At 11 a.m. a tribute ceremony at the Albert Henry Woolson Monument in Zeigler’s Grove on the battlefield precedes the parade. Albert Woolson of Duluth, Minnesota, was the last survivor of the Union Grand Army of the Republic. The ceremony is “dedicated to our ancestors who answered our nation’s call during its darkest hour, the American Civil War.” Approximately 13 organizations offer floral tributes during the proceedings. Events at the monument include presentation of the colors, rendering of the national anthem by the Philadelphia Brigade Band, the pledge of allegiance, invocation, a presentation to the military park, recitation of the Gettysburg Address, benediction, taps and postlude. This year Frederick Douglass (Michael Crutcher of Lexington, Kentucky) delivered his highly moving 1871 Address at the Graves of the Unknown Dead. The Albert Henry Woolson Monument was first dedicated on September 12, 1956, by the National Auxiliary, SUVCW.
Brigadier General Henry E. Shaw, Jr., Deputy Commander, SVR, is the officer in charge of the extensive planning tasks prior to and during the day’s events. Among other things various contracts are executed, bonds are posted, insurance certificates are submitted, assorted letters of invitation and request are sent out, lease agreements are entered into, permits are requested and certificates of appreciation and recognition are printed.
Placement of participants in the parade staging area is the responsibility of Major Eric Schmincke, the SVR Provost Marshal, and Captain David Hann, Deputy Provost, along with one or two provost assistants. The parade participants step off at 1 p.m. led by two soldiers carrying the SVR banner. They are followed by Major General Robert E. Grim, SVR Commanding Officer; Brigadier General Henry E. Shaw, Deputy Commander; Colonel Donald E. Darby, Adjutant General, and Donald L. Martin, Commander-in Chief of the SUVCW.
The parade reviewing area includes Major Howard T. Frost, the reviewing area Provost; Robert F. Costello in the persona of President Lincoln; Andrew Gregg Curtin, the wartime Governor of Pennsylvania, portrayed by David Klinepeter and the SVR Commanding Officer, Deputy Commander and Adjutant General whose names have been mentioned above. Also in the reviewing area is the persona of the wartime Mayor of Gettysburg, name not available as of this writing.
The events of the day culminate in a SUVCW sponsored Original Civil War ball at 8 p.m. in the Wyndham Hotel on Route 15 at Route 30 in Gettysburg. Music is provided by the Philadelphia Brigade Band with dances led by the Victorian Dance Ensemble. Ball proceeds are donated to the Gettysburg National Military Park for Union and Confederate monument preservation. Through 2015, $60,500 has been donated for such preservation work.
-By Jim Boitz