A July 3rd to remember

July 3rd, 2013 should become a day to remember – to call to mind the sacrifices of our forebears as the struggle to preserve our Union became ever more costly and bloody. The program that is scheduled at Riverside Park begins with a 3:30 p.m. gathering at the refreshment and food stands. At 4:10 p.m., seven- year-old Ashley Schaefer will sing our National Anthem. Ashley has sung at Minnesota Twins games and at Maverick sporting events. This memorable rendition will be followed by the Honorable Governor Mark Dayton’s address. In 1861, it was Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey who was the very first governor to offer troops to Lincoln to save our Union. Three, one-hour patriotic concerts will follow and then end with Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, three rifle and cannon salutes and taps. The 8:30 p.m. ending will allow attendees to spend the remainder of the eve of our Fourth of July in other family activities.

Concerts in New Ulm do befit the commemoration of the Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and they are very appropriate. The first three days of July in 1863 found British Military Observer Arthur Fremantle at Gettysburg accompanied by a Prussian Observer named Schreibert. On July 2nd the largest cannon duel ever fought on the American continent continued for many hours and resulted in a dense fog-like smoke covering the field of battle. Sitting high in the tree, the two military observers watched the bloody battle unfold as Generals Lee and Longstreet were below them, mounted on their steeds. In mid-afternoon, as the hand-to-hand combat was beginning, they heard the strains of a brass military band playing polkas and waltzes. Thus, men were dying while hearing German polka and waltz music. Our New Ulm concerts on July 3rd will feature some polka and waltz music as well as traditional Blue Grass tunes and salutes to our military.

The Civil War brought changes to our nation which were revolutionary in their day. The appearance of canned goods and a tool called a can-opener were Civil War based, as were home mail deliveries, left and right shoes shaped differently, standard pre-made clothing in sizes small, medium and large, and a national paper currency. Military newcomers were cartridge ammunition, repeating rifles, machine guns, submarines, hot-air balloons, land mines, trench-warfare and soldier ID-tags.

Naval warfare was revolutionized with the appearance of iron-clad ships and an even more important device was the introduction of a rotating gun turret which totally changed naval warfare tactics. No longer would the direction of a ship’s course determine its direction of gunfire. The transcontinental telegraph lines and railroads made communication advances that today are taken for granted. The freeing of the slaves was monumental. Photography was in its infancy but already the very first censoring of battlefield photos became necessary as the ongoing recruiting of new soldiers might be hindered.

That 750,000 would die as a result of this war, which was anything but “civil,”did drive the on-going evolvement of the longest-lived democracy of all time which was also destined to become the most powerful economic and military power that ever existed.

Hear a new Civil War song composed by Dick Kimmel, learn about the trying times of New Ulm people during the war as NUACT players act out personal letters, hear New Ulm native, Colonel (ret) Peter Mansoor address the military significance of these battles, congratulate our famous New Ulm Battery as it celebrates 150 years of service to our community and state, and be enrapt with a unique presentation of the Gettysburg Address, all in the comfort of your very own lawn chair at New Ulm’s Riverside Park on Wednesday, July 3rd.

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