Respect for the Battlefields of Gettysburg

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is coming up in the first week of July. That means that hundreds of thousands of tourists, reporters, reenactors, and ghost hunters will be descending upon the town and the battlefields to pay their respects, to enjoy the events and speakers, and to be part of a huge reenactment of the most famous battle of our civil war.

I have lived in the area for nearly 40 years. The first time I visited Gettysburg it was a sobering experience. I walked the battlefield, read the inscriptions on the memorial statues, climbed the steps up the tower to view the battlefield, and even enjoyed a meal in a local restaurant. I took pictures with my 35mm camera. The place was peaceful, beautiful, and very, very sad. For me, the town had a creepy feel, a feeling of heaviness, of something hanging over it that weighed me down and made me feel dark. I didn't like returning so I didn't return very often until 2007. I joined a wonderful ghost hunting group out of Gettysburg. Then I met and started dating someone from Gettysburg, who I am still,very happily with, so I spend a great deal of time there now.

The town has changed, since then, beyond recognition. The tourist trade is phenomenal. Shops, stores, museums, galleries, restaurants, have sprung up everywhere. Crowds walk the streets every day from early April through October. The battlefields are lined with cars and people are everywhere with their cameras. All of this has been great for the economy of the town.

But there is one thing that has happened that I do not believe to be good for the town at all. That is this idea, this belief, that has been repeated and ingrained into the public in recent years,  that Gettysburg is the most haunted battlefield, the most haunted town in America; that ghosts of civil war soldiers, both confederate and union, walk the town's streets, reside in the town's buildings, and haunt the battlefields in huge numbers. And...they can and should be HUNTED; caught on camera, questioned, recorded, gathered for evidence, made into TV reality shows, toured by groups of ghost enthusiasts for fun; as if the town were an amusement part ride and the ghosts were the attractions; as if the entire town and all of its ghostly dead were free game for entertainment, amusement, and PROFIT.

Even the legitimate Paranormal Investigative teams seem to have succumbed to the temptation for scarfing up the huge profits to be won at being tour guides, and giving pseudo ghost walk/paranormal investigation mini tours for a price. Selling t-shirts, selling equipment for ghost hunting, selling the hope of catching a civil war soldier in all of his sad and bloody glory, on camera, on recording, capturing an EVP saying "get out!!!".

It has gotten absurd, extreme, ridiculous, and, in my opinion, horrendously disrespectful of the dead.
A recent post on social media expressed this sentiment that they were grateful for the people who were working to preserve the battlefield, and expressed thanks for the many hours that their team spent investigating the battlefield.
 How ironic. Really? You don't see the irony in this statement? YOU are the problem. Your teams, your ghost hunting on sacred ground, your gathering of evidence while standing atop the bodies of the dead, harassing them with your endless questions and making demands to talk to us, to give us a sign, to let us see a manifestation of your presence...   I have done this myself. I am as guilty as the rest of you. I have gone walking the battlefield, camera and recorder and EMF meter in hand, hoping and begging and provoking for some manifestation, some evidence that the war dead walk these hallowed grounds and want to perform for me. I want to capture them, hold onto them, hear them, feel them, see them, and make them prove themselves. Good God.

I don't do that anymore. I had an eye-opening, teachable moment a year ago
. I overheard a discussion by some investigators of offering tours of the town's haunted sites for a large fee. How to get the "marks" to sign up for the classes, buy the tours, the equipment. They referred to the public as gullible, stupid, irritating, and so very easy to con. There was lots of laughter and mocking and fun had by all.
I am sure that Gettysburg has it's ghosts. I am also certain that some of the locations are haunted, but not in the way marketed to the public. There is not a ghost on every street corner and every building and every field. Gettysburg is a cemetery. A memorial to the dead..our own dead, our brothers and sisters who fought and died in a tragic, horrible battle. The ground is forever sacred and scarred, blood soaked and reeking of death and pain and suffering beyond our ability to comprehend. The exploitation of this sacred battlefield is beyond forgiving. The profiteering of the suffering and death of thousands is unforgivable, unthinkable. 
Try respecting the dead by stopping the ghost tours, the ghost hunting on the battlefield and former field hospitals. 
Leave them in peace. 
Or just leave.


With so many ghosts roaming Gettysburg, according to tour group business owners, there should be enough to stage a spectral reenactment of the battle.

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