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Celebrate Ike, Abe this Presidents Day Weekend



Follow in the footsteps of our nation’s greatest leaders in Gettysburg, Pa.


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – January 5, 2015


History abounds in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, attracting millions of visitors reflecting on the nation’s most trying times – the tragic American Civil War battle that left tens of thousands dead and wounded.


But Gettysburg is also a place where America’s great leaders left their footprint and found inspiration, making the destination a great place to celebrate Presidents Day Weekend, Feb. 14-16.


“Presidents Day Weekend is a great time to visit Gettysburg,” said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. “The long weekend provides travelers a nice mid-winter getaway.”


Take Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States - the Civil War is in its third year, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and a country is torn in two. He’s invited by a young, local attorney – David Wills – to say “a few appropriate remarks” at the dedication of a national cemetery in Gettysburg where more than 2,000 bodies of Union soldiers are buried.


He arrives in Gettysburg at the train station, makes is way up to the home of Wills and puts the finishing touches on what would become one of the most revered speeches in world history. The next day, amongst a crowd of 15,000 people, Lincoln delivers the famous Gettysburg Address.


Today, visitors can retrace Lincoln’s footsteps during his short, but monumental, visit to Gettysburg – with visits to the Historic Gettysburg Railroad Station, theDavid Wills House museum, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, as well as guided and self-guided walking tours that usher travelers to key points in the president’s visit in 1863.


Decades later, a young Dwight D. Eisenhower was sent to the battlegrounds in Gettysburg to train with tanks during World War I at Camp Colt. When his time in Europe during World War II as general during the famous D-Day invasion wrapped up, he and his wife, Mamie, chose Gettysburg as a place to settle down and retire. That retirement was cut short, however, when Eisenhower led NATO and was later elected as 34th president of the United States.


His Gettysburg home soon became his vacation home – a place where Eisenhower escaped the politics of Washington, but hosted world leaders where he would show off his prize angus herd. Today, the presidential home is open to the public as the Eisenhower National Historic Site, where travelers can tour the home, the working farm and get a glimpse of a bygone era.


Because of its close proximity to Washington, DC, and Camp David – the presidential retreat in Maryland - many presidents have visited Gettysburg over the years, but none more notable, perhaps, than John F. Kennedy. In the summer of 1963 – as Gettysburg commemorated the 100th anniversary of its famous battle – the 35th president toured the renowned battlefield with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.


Later that year, after his assassination in Dallas, Texas, the First Lady was asked about a grave marker for her late husband. She suggested something similar to a monument he loved dearly in Gettysburg – the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, where a flame is lit 24 hours a day.


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