Eisenhower National Historic Site

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

We visited the Eisenhower National Historic Site right after our tour of Gettysburg National Military Park (you can read my Gettysburg post here.) The home isn’t far from Gettysburg, but we arrived just in time for the last house tour of the day.

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Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was a Five-Star General in World War II, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and the 34th President of the United States. His presidency brought us the Interstate Highway System, The Civil Rights Act, NASA, the escalation of the Cold War and the Eisenhower Doctrine which promised US protection for unstable but ‘friendly’ Middle Eastern countries from communist invasion.

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Because of his military career, Ike and his wife Mamie moved around frequently and had never owned a home. After the war, Mamie insisted they settle down. They purchased a run-down farm and 189 acres on the outskirts of Gettysburg. They rebuilt the old house during Eisenhower’s first presidential term.

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In 1955, Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while in office and he spent over a month recuperating at the newly (and extravagantly) renovated farmhouse. Afterwards, Mamie and Ike returned to Gettysburg most weekends and holidays.

Eisenhower drew sharp criticism from his political opponents for his frequent absences from the White House and for the amount of money spent on the farmhouse renovation. By today’s standards, the cost was over $2 million.

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The Eisenhowers donated their home and land to the National Park Service in 1967, retaining lifetime living rights for Ike. Eisenhower died only two years later, but Mamie was given federal permission to remain in the home. She lived on the farm (in a smaller section) until her death in 1979.

The National Park Service opened the site to the public in 1980. There is a short video in the visitors center and several outbuildings to explore, in addition to the main house.

Location: 243 Eisenhower Farm Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designated or established: 11/27/1967

Date of my visit: 9/3/2011

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Gettysburg National Military Park

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania commemorates the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle. It is considered a turning point in the war, with the Union forces repelling Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North. Over the course of 3 days of fierce fighting in July of 1863, about fifty thousand soldiers died…the costliest battle ever in American history.DSC01685

Five months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln dedicated a National Cemetary at the site and delivered the famous Gettysburg Address, reminding everyone of the principles behind the Declaration of Independence and urging unity in the hopes that,

“these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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Did you know that when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, he was suffering from a mild case of smallpox?!

We visited Gettysburg on Labor Day Weekend in 2011. We started out at the Visitor Center where we perused the museum, watched a short film and viewed the interesting Cyclorama Painting. We picked up the Junior Ranger booklet for my daughter to earn her badge.

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The Eternal Light Peace Memorial dedicated on July 3, 1938, commemorating the 1913 Gettysburg reunion for the 50th anniversary of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The natural gas flame is visible from 20 miles away.

We then took a two-hour bus tour around the battlefield and memorials. Tours are conducted by licensed battlefield guides…they have to take a course and pass an exam in order to conduct tours on the NPS site. Our guide narrated throughout the bus ride and we had several stops where we could get out, stretch our legs and take photos. There are over 1300 monuments, memorials and plaques here, comprising one of the largest collections of outdoor sculpture in the world.

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Our favorite was the Castle at Little Roundtop because we could go inside and climb the stairs to an observation deck. This memorial is for a New York regiment in honor of Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth who was the first Union soldier killed during the war. It was here that there were some volunteers performing a living history. This union soldier spent some time talking to my daughter and helped her with her junior ranger packet.

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Location: 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA 17325

Designation: National Military Park

Date designation declared: Declared a National Park in 1895, decades prior to creation of the NPS

Date of my visit: 9/3/2011

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Our junior ranger being ‘sworn in’