Jan 1


The Eternal Light Peace Memorial

The Eternal Light Peace Memorial, located on Oak Hill’s North Confederate Avenue was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on July 3, 1938. A Pennsylvania Commission first proposed a monument with an eternal flame in 1909 in order to have it finished for the 50th Reunion of Union and Confederate veterans in 1913. This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.

The Eternal Light Peace Memorial, or Peace Light, was dedicated on July 3, 1938 as one part of the ceremonies for the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Approximately 1800 Union and Confederate veterans attended the 75th Reunion, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the monument with a nine minute speech. We have an audio of the ceremonies from a radio network that was covering the event. We also have a facsimile of Roosevelt’s speech and additions/corrections in his handwriting. Roosevelt signed the speech, but we don’t know to whom this version belonged (if it is the Nicolay or Hay equivalent copies of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address). We assume that it is President Roosevelt’s copy. The audio and the facsimile were provided by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York.


Orange Battery of Carter’s Artillery Battalion

The monument was not funded for the 1913 reunion, and in 1935, another Pennsylvania Commission started planning for another Peace Light. The monument was dedicated in 1938, and rededicated in 1988 on the 125th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The artillery piece marks the position held by the Orange (Virginia) Battery of Carter’s Artillery Battalion (CSA). This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


President Roosevelt arriving at the train station in Gettysburg

President Roosevelt arrived at the train station in Gettysburg from his home in Hyde Park, New York. He was in Hyde Park from June 28th through July 2nd. Except for a Press Conference on June 28th and a visit from the Crown Princess of Sweden on July 1st, he did not have any official duties listed on his schedule. This view was taken facing southeast on Sunday, July 3, 1938.


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

During the June 28th Press Conference Roosevelt, besides addressing unemployement figures, addressed the military buildup in Europe. He stated that in some countries fifty percent of their “national income” was used for military defense. In the United States in 1938, approximately fifteen percent of the “national income” was used for military defense. Roosevelt was coming to Gettysburg to dedicate a monument to Eternal Peace while other parts of the world were actively preparing for war.

Above is a video clip of the 75th Reunion. It begins with the veterans arriving in Gettysburg, and shows a parade in their honor in downtown Gettysburg. It also shows them in the camp laid out in the plain where the 11th Corps was engaged on July 1, 1863 between Oak Ridge and Gettysburg College. Then it shows President Roosevelt making his speech to dedicate the monument, and shows the large flag pulled off the monument.


Aerial view of the 75th Anniversary encampment

This is an aerial view of the 75th Anniversary encampment. It was located on the plain between Gettysburg College and Oak Ridge where the 11th Corps fought on July 1, 1863. The Carlisle Road is shown on the left side running into the town of Gettysburg. It intersects with West Howard Avenue, which is the road near the bottom of the image running from northeast to southwest in this photograph. This photograph was taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. This view was taken facing southwest in 1938.

Above is another video clip of the 75th Anniversary ceremonies. It begins with silent video of the crowd at the Peace Light Dedication, and the Civil War veterans shaking hands across the stone wall at the Angle. It also shows a parade of military personnel and vehicles on the Gettysburg College campus. The sound doesn’t begin until just before the section where President Roosevelt is speaking.

We have included a radio broadcast of the dedication ceremony. To listen to the audio, click above to play or download the file. You might want to listen to the commentary, speeches, and prayers as you view the rest of the photographs in this post. The audio clip was acquired from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York.


Speech of the President

Open the full Speech of the President in a PDF by clicking here.

We have also included facsimiles of President Roosevelt’s speech. On page one, it is apparent that Roosevelt didn’t like the beginning, and changed it. The facsimile was acquired from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. There are four pages, and after you download them, you may click on the arrow at the bottom of the image to see each page.


John Stanley Rice

The first speaker and master of ceremonies was John Stanley Rice (1899-1985). Rice, who was the primary person responsible for the 1938 75th Anniversary Reunion, and for erecting the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, was a Gettysburg resident. He was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1899. John S. Rice was a Lutheran, a Democrat, a manufacturer, and a prominent fruit grower. He served in the United States Army during World War I and in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. From 1933-1940 he was a State Senator. He lost a bid for Governor in 1946. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1964. He was Secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1958 to 1961. He was chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party from 1959-1961, and from 1965-1966. He was United States Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1961-1964. He was a member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign War, the Freemasons, and the Elks. He is buried in Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery.


Aerial image of the Peace Light dedication ceremonies

Here is another aerial image of the Peace Light dedication ceremonies on July 3, 1863. The Pennsylvania Highway Patrol estimated that 250,000 people attended the ceremonies, and another 100,000 people were stuck on the roads coming into town and couldn’t make it in time. Ath the beginning of the broadcast, the radio announcer on the video clip we are providing estimated 75,000 people were in attendance. By the end of the broadcast he estimated the crowd at 150,000. The smaller tent on the right (west) of the monument covered the speaker’s stand. The larger tent to the west covered the dignitaries, including the approximately 1800 veterans who attended the ceremony.


George Howard Earl

George Howard Earl (1890-1974) was the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1935-1939. He was a Democrat who had relatives on both sides during the American Civil War. In the broadcast he presents the monument from the State of Pennsylvania to the Government of the United States, and introduces President Roosevelt.


Gettysburg veterans

Of the 1800 veterans who attended the 75th Anniversary ceremonies, the youngest was 88 years old, and the oldest claimed to be 112 years old. This view was taken in 1938.


President Roosevelt’s Address

We will present President Roosevelt’s Address, including crowd reaction in the following photographs. The black and white pictures were taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. “On behalf of the people of the United States I accept this monument in the spirit of brotherhood and peace.” This view was taken facing northeast on Sunday, July 3, 1938.


Southwest view of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Close-up of President Roosevelt’s Address

“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. For a statesman deals with concrete difficulties–with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.” This view was taken facing northeast on Sunday, July 3, 1938.


'With Firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right' - Lincoln

“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


President Roosevelt

For the issue which he restated (on this spot) here at Gettysburg seventy-five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which (it) the Nation was founded– to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.” This view was taken facing northwest on Sunday, July 3, 1938.


West view of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

“The task assumes different shapes at different times. Sometimes the threat to popular government comes from political interests, sometimes from economic interests, sometimes we have to beat off all of them together.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


President Roosevelt waving

“But the challenge is always the same– whether each generation facing its own circumstances can summon the practical devotion to attain and to retain that greatest good for the greatest number which this government of the people was created to ensure.” This view was taken facing north at on Sunday, July 3, 1938.


Western view of the Peace Light

“Lincoln spoke in solace for all who fought upon this field; and the years have laid their balm upon its wounds. Men who wore the Blue and men who wore the Gray are here together, a fragment spared by time. They are brought here by the memories of old divided loyalties, but they meet here in united loyalty to a united cause which the unfolding years have made it easier to see.” This view was taken facing west at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Eternal Light Peace memorial wayside sign

“All of them we honor, not asking under which Flag they fought then– thankful that they stand together under one Flag now [applause].” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Northwest view of the Peace Light

“Lincoln was commander-in-chief in this old battle; he wanted above all tiings to be commander-in-chief of the new peace. He understood that battle there must be; that when a challenge to constituted government is thrown down, the people must in self-defense take it up; that the fight must be fought through to a decision so clear that it is accepted as being beyond recall.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Flame on the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

“But Lincoln also understood that after such a decision, a democracy should seek peace through a new unity.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Full view of the Peace Light monument

“For a democracy can keep alive only if the settlement of old difficulties clears the ground and transfers energies to face new responsibilities. Never can it have as much aability and as much purpose as it needs in that striving; the end of battle does not end the infinity of those needs.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Across the street from the Peace Light

“That is why Lincoln– commander of a people as well as of an army– asked that his battle end ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all.’” This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Northern view of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

“To the hurt of those who came after him, Lincoln’s plea was long denied. A generation passed before the new unity became accepted fact.” This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Northeast view of the Peace Light

“And in later years new needs arose, and with them new tasks, worldwide in their perplexities, in their bitterness and in their modes of strife. Here in our land we give thanks that, avoiding war, we seek our ends through the peaceful processes of popular government under the Constitution.” [Applause] This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Eastern view of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

“But it is another conflict, a conflict as fundamental as Lincoln’s, fought not with (glint of) steel, but weith appeals to reason and justice on a thousand fronts– seeking to save for our common country opportunity and security for citizens in a free society.” [Applause] This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


'An enduring light to guide us in unity and fellowship'

“We are near to winning this battle. In its winning and through the years may we live by the wisdom and the humanity of the heart of Abraham Lincoln.” [Prolonged applause] This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Southeast view of the Peace Light monument

At the conclusion of the President’s address, a soldier from the North and from the South, pulled the cords to remove the large American flag draping the monument. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Southeast view of the Peace Light

Then a Union and Confederate Veteran lit the eternal flame, “using the rays of the sun.” This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Dedication marker

This marker located behind (north of) the monument commemorates the dedication. This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Bench behind dedication marker

This bench is behind the marker. This view was taken facing south at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Marker and bench at the Peace Light

Here’s a view showing the marker and the bench. This view was taken facing south at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Far away view of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial

Most of the crowd during the dedication ceremonies were standing in the fields in the background. The red/orange roof marking the Herr’s Tavern Barn is in the right background. This view was taken facing south at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


Southwest view of the Peace Light

The architect of the monument was Paul Philippe Cret. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


The Eternal Flame

The Eternal Flame was first fueled by gas tanks buried in the ground. During the energy crisis of the 1970s it was turned off. It was briefly relit during the Bicentennial in 1976, and replaced with a soldium vapor light in 1978. Columbia Gas Company installed gas pipe lines, and since the 1980s, the flame has again been lit with natural gas. This view was taken west at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


North and South goodwill sculptures

The figures on the front of the monument were sculpted by Lee Lawrie. They are supposed to represent the intended goodwill between the north and south. The eagle is the symbol for the United States. This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


'Peace Eternal in a Nation United'

In the front of the monument are the words “Peace Eternal in a Nation United.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


List of Pennsylvania Commissioners

The names of the commissioners, headed by John S. Rice, are on the southeast section of the monument. This view was taken facing north at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.


List of United States Commissioners

Virginia, in 1936, was the first of seven states to contribute to the project. The total cost was $50,000. This view was taken facing north at at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, December 25, 2008.

See the following related posts:

Peace Light Sunset on February 28, 2008.
Lots of Rain, No Eternal Flame on March 19, 2008.


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