Oct 21

A picture of the July 6, 1978 tour in the area of the Virginia Monument looking across the fields of Pickett’s Charge. From left Bob Prosperi, President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and author Shelby Foote. President Carter came prepared with his field glasses. This view was taken facing west on Thursday, July 6, 1978.

Bob Prosperi was a young National Park Service Technician (Park Tech) on July 5, 1978 when he received a phone call to take President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and author Shelby Foote on a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield the next day July 6, 1978.

The tour went well, and Prosperi was requested by President Carter to give another tour on September 9, 1978. This tour was held in the midst of Carter’s Camp David Summit, and the participants included not only the Carter family, but President of Egypt Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.

Bob Prosperi worked over 17 years for the National Park Service before working for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). He is now a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park.

In today’s post, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Prosperi gives some general background about himself, how he received the call to take President Carter on the July 6, 1978 tour, and explains how he met the Carter party at the West End Guide Station.

We would like to thank National Park Service Archivist Greg Goodell for allowing us to take pictures of the Carter visits photographs.

See our posts on President John F. Kennedy’s March 31, 1963 visit to Gettysburg by clicking here.

This map shows us the locations taken of videos for our Carter at Gettysburg series. Videos #1 and #2 were taken at the Baltimore Street entrance to the Soldiers National Cemetery near the Superintendent’s House. Video #3 was taken at the West End Guide Station on the Chambersburg Pike. This map was created facing north at approximately 3:00 PM on Tuesday, October 21, 2009.

Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Prosperi was a young National Park Service Technician living in the Superintendent’s House at the Soldiers National Cemetery (shown in the background) when he received a phone call to give a tour of the battlefield. This view was taken facing north at approximately 2:00 PM on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

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In Video #1 Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Prosperi is standing near the Superintendent’s House at the Soldiers National Cemetery. He gives some background about himself. This view was taken facing north at approximately 2:00 PM on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

On July 1, 1978, Bob Prosperi had been asked to give a tour to United States Secretary of the Interior, Cecil Andrus. This tour went well, and prompted the National Park Service administrators at Gettysburg to ask Bob to do the Carter tour. Here is a picture of the group at the Virginia Monument. From left to right Gettysburg businesswoman Joan Hankey, Gettysburg businessman Bob Monahan, Carol May Andrus, Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus, (unidentified), Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent John Earnst, and National Park Tech Bob Prosperi. This view was taken facing west on Saturday, July 1, 1978.

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In Video #2 Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Prosperi explains how other officials in the National Park Service administration at Gettysburg passed the tour off to him, and he spent the evening of July 5, 1978 reading everything that Shelby Foote had written about Gettysburg. The Superintendent didn’t want to give the tour, the Chief Historian didn’t want to give the tour, and Chief of Interpretation didn’t want to give the tour. So it was left to a Park Tech with two years experience. This view was taken facing north at approximately 2:00 PM on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

Licensed Battlefield Guide Bob Prosperi has now moved to the West End Guide station on McPherson’s Ridge near the Chambersburg Pike. Here is where he met President Carter’s party on July 6, 1978. This view was taken facing west at approximately 2:30 PM on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

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In Video #3 Bob Prosperi is standing at the West End Guide Station on McPherson’s Ridge near the Chambersburg Pike. He explains how he met the Carter party here, and then got into a separate, lead car with some Secret Service agents. Bob, at this point, thought Shelby Foote was leading the tour, and Bob would just be there for backup if needed. This view was taken facing west to north at approximately 2:30 PM on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

Bob Prosperi meets the Carter Party at the West End Guide Station, which is out of sight in the background. From left author Shelby Foote, President Jimmy Carter, Park Tech Bob Prosperi, and Park Superintendent John Earnst. This view was taken facing west on Thursday, July 6, 1978.

To see other posts by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, click here.


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