top of page

Memorial Day in Gettysburg

With the loss of life in the tens of thousands those three monumental days in July 1863, Memorial Day has a special significance in Gettysburg. The American Battlefield Trust estimates that as many as 51,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing during the Battle of Gettysburg. 

Three years after the end of the Civil War, Union veteran organization the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day as a day for the nation to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers. Almost 100 years later, in 1971, Memorial Day was recognized by Congress as a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. 

In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance was created for all throughout the nation to pause at 3 p.m. local time for one minute to honor and remember the ultimate sacrifice our soldiers made for our country. 

In Gettysburg, three Memorial Day events of particular significance include:

  • The 157th Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony takes place on Monday, May 27. This Memorial Day event, organized by the Gettysburg Joint Veterans Memorial Day Commission, is one of the oldest continuing ceremonies in the nation. The parade begins at 2 p.m. on Lefever Street and ends at Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Memorial Day Ceremony starts at 3 p.m. at the Rostrum in the cemetery, with Maj. Gen. David C. Hill, commandant of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, as the keynote speaker. Learn more at

  • For more than 100 years, fallen U.S. service members were interred with honor at Gettysburg National Cemetery. Explore some of the lesser-known stories of those interred in the cemetery. Join National Park Service rangers on Saturday, May 25 at 10 a.m. for “A Century of Sacrifice,” a free, 90-minute guided walking tour of Gettysburg National Cemetery. The rangers, from Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, will highlight stories of service members from each of America’s armed conflicts who were laid to rest in the cemetery from the 1860s through the 1960s. The program will begin at the Taneytown Road entrance of the cemetery. Learn more at

Unknown soldier in the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg have small headstones.

This is also the final resting place for more than 3,500 United States soldiers killed at Gettysburg.

  • Starting on Memorial Day evening and continuing through Labor Day, the notes of “Taps” will once more fill the air every evening as the famous 24-note call sounds in Gettysburg National Cemetery. This program, “One Hundred Nights of Taps,” is in its eighth year.  Beginning at 5:30 p.m. each evening, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides offer a free interpretive program exploring the aftermath of the battle and the creation of the cemetery. Then, at 7 p.m. at the Soldiers’ National Monument in the cemetery, individuals from the Lincoln Fellowship, guest National Park Service rangers and licensed battlefield guides will offer brief historical vignettes in addition to the playing of “Taps.” Volunteer buglers include active duty military musicians, military veterans, Civil War living historians and musicians, community band members, high school and college students, and music teachers. Learn more at

Memorial Day in Gettysburg is an especially moving day, and it reminds us all of the courage, dedication and sacrifice that our slain service members made in the name of freedom. I hope you have the opportunity to observe this solemn, patriotic day in Gettysburg soon.

Gettysburg Sentinels crafts commemorative pieces out of reclaimed battlefield wood. Learn more about these tangible pieces of history at

bottom of page