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Confederate statues will stay as Gettysburg attraction

August 21, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

With Civil War tourism a massive attraction in the US and a movement growing to tear down statues of Confederate generals, the US National Park Service has assured the public it will not remove the Confederate monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park.

About 3.7 million tourists visit the area in Pennsylvania each year.

A senior adviser for the park service gave a reassurance last week that the statues would stay, local media reported. The news will come as a relief to tour operators and to many visitors.

Old soldiers from the American Civil War meet in 1938 at the 75th anniversary of Gettysburg

A heated debate is underway in the US over Confederate monuments. Protesters point out the Confederate states – the South in the Civil War – supported slavery. They argue that monuments associated with the Confederacy symbolise white supremacy and should be torn down.

Another viewpoint is that history is history and people should focus on the present and the future – learn lessons from the past but otherwise leave it alone.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, last week, three people died and many were hurt amid riots over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Statue at Gettysburg of Confederate General Robert E. Lee 

A big statue of Lee has already been removed from New Orleans.

At the Gettysburg battlefield, more than 1300 monuments tell the story of the deadliest battle in the American Civil War. Thirty monuments are dedicated to Confederate states, military units and soldiers.

More than 7000 soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg in just three days in July 1863. The two armies, Union and Confederate, suffered between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties. After the battle, more than a third of Lee’s army were dead, wounded or missing.

Gettysburg reunions were held in 1913 and 1938 for the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the battle, with many of the soldiers who had fought on different sides shaking hands and hugging each other. They no doubt thought the war was long behind them. Recent events show the conflict is still capable of triggering fury.

Written by Peter Needham

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