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For those fortunate to call south-central Pennsylvania their home, it is often easy to forget about all the important historic events that happened right here and have figured so prominently in our nation’s development. During the Revolutionary War, the second Continental Congress came to York from British-occupied Philadelphia, completing important work on the Articles of Confederation among other things, during that body’s time in colonial York Town. There are many other historic spots dotting the area, but none are nearly as prominent as Gettysburg, the site of the one of the most pivotal battles in our nation’s Civil War.
Many Scout leaders here in our council are already aware of the Gettysburg Historic Trails program, which includes walking tours of the battlefield from the perspective of soldiers from both armies. In addition, the program includes a walking tour of the town of Gettysburg, as well as visits to the Eisenhower Farm (former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s home after leaving the White House) and the park’s museum and visitor center. If you’re not familiar with this program, details are available here on the council’s website and newly-revised trail guides are also available in the York and Mechancisburg Service Centers.
In the decades that the the council has cooperated with the National Park Service to make the Gettysburg Historic Trails program available, there is no way of estimating just how many Scouts have come to Gettysburg, primarily to learn about the important events that took place there in July 1863. But based on current sales of trail guides, patches and medals, it easy to know that several thousand Scouts participate in one or more of the Gettysburg Historic Trails programs each year. And now, there’s a brand-new reason to add to the reasons why a Scout would want to participate in these programs.
The New Birth of Freedom Council is pleased to announce an updated design (pictured above right) for the main and segment patches earned by Scouts participating in the historic trails program. The new patch was designed to take full advantage of improvements in the patch-making process to create a stirring design that every Scout will be proud to display on their uniform. The overall requirements of the program itself have not changed, only the recognition patches that participants can earn. The level of detail in the new patch has been significantly enhanced and pricing on the new main patch and segments will remain the same as the current patch and segments.
The new main patch and segments were made available beginning on April 1, 2009. The previous patch and segments will continue to be stocked by the council service center through December 31, 2010 so that participants who began earning segments on the current program will be able to complete the entire set. Units will be able to order either the new or previous segments, but there may be some delays in obtaining the previous segments since the council will be ordering smaller amounts of those patches going forward. The trail medals currently being sold reflect the new patch design, since the inventory of old-style trail medals has been sold out and will not be restocked.
The council also makes available additional Gettysburg Historic Trails items – including t-shirts, hats, and hiking stick medallions. Please check our on-line store for these items and pricing.
Many thanks to Matt Sweitzer for his assistance in creating the new design for the Gettysburg Historic Trails main patch and segments. The design process took several months and there were numerous changes along the way. But when you appreciate the final design, all the fuss was well worth it.
While Scouts from all across America travel to Gettysburg to participate in the historic trails program every year, there are plenty of new reasons for Scouts to take advantage of this exciting program opportunity. The brand-new $103 million, 139,000-square foot Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park offers visitors a 21st-century museum that not only tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, but also presents the battle’s significance in our nation’s history, within the context of the causes and consequences of the Civil War.
With more than 300,000 objects and 700,000 archival materials, the collection at Gettysburg is one of the most extensive in the world. But the educational experience available in a unit to Gettysburg goes well beyond simply learning about the battle that happened there in 1863. Of the 12 galleries in the new Gettysburg museum, 11 are based on phrases from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. A new 22-minute feature film, “A New Birth of Freedom,” immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and emotions of the battle and its aftermath.
Through a unique partnership between the National Park Service and The Gettysburg Foundation, including the members of the Friends of Gettysburg, the new museum and visitor center is just one of several new construction and rehabilitation projects. The famous “Battle of Gettysburg” Cyclorama painting depicting the charge of Confederate infantry led by General George Pickett has recently undergone a $15 million restoration effort, including a new system to display this magnificent treasure that was painted in 1883-84 by French master Paul Phillippoteaux and a team of 20 artists. The fully-restored painting reopened to visitors on September 26, 2008.
Other projects will include restoring parts of the battlefield to how they would have appeared during the battle in July 1863, as well as improvements to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and the David Wills House, where President Lincoln put the finishing touches on his stirring Gettysburg address.
- Gettysburg Historic Trails Program Start Page
- Camping at Gettysburg National Military Park
- General Information and How Your Group Should Conduct Itself in Gettysburg
- New Gettysburg Historic Trails Patches A Smashing Success
- Online Store for Gettysburg Trail Merchandise
- Printable Order Form for Gettysburg Patch, Segments and Trail Medals (PDF)