Zachary Bolitho, Acting Superintendent
Gettysburg National Military Park
Nov. 19, 2019
"Good morning and welcome to all of you. Thank you for being here, on this the 156th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is my honor to represent Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site today, as the Acting Superintendent.
I want to extend a special welcome to our candidates for citizenship here today and to our award-winning participants in the Great Task Youth Leadership program.
We stand today within the grounds of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, a part of Gettysburg National Military Park. Buried on this hallowed hillside are the remains of 3,512 Union soldiers who fell during the Battle of Gettysburg. Their sacrifice a century and a half ago helped to preserve and reunite a deeply divided country and free from the shackles of enslavement four million human beings. By gathering here today, we honor their memory, while also recommitting ourselves to ideas and ideals for which they fought and died.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a veteran of the battle and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his heroic defense of Little Round Top, would call Gettysburg “the vision-place of souls”: A place where distant generations would come to reflect and ponder on the lives that were lost and the meaning of the war and the future of our country.
To the candidates for citizenship: We welcome you to this special place on this important day. As an American citizen, the legacy of this battlefield becomes your legacy and this National Park becomes your National Park.
We also have with us representatives of two very special student groups. Specifically, the 8th grade student council from Hershey Middle School and the student representatives of the E.F. Smith STEAM Academy.
These students drew inspiration from their battlefield experiences earlier this year through the “Great Task Youth Leadership Program” and committed themselves to tackling their own “great task” in their local communities.
Would the representatives of Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy and Hershey Middle School Student Council please stand:
On behalf of Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation, and the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, we are so pleased to recognize you all today with the “Great Task” Community Leadership Award.
Please join me in congratulating these students. (applause)