Led by their commanding officer, USS Gettysburg (CG 64) Sailors recently visited their ship’s namesake city to participate in Memorial Day events, meet the local citizens and learn about the Civil War battle of the same name.
Highlighting the trip, the ship’s Color Guard and accompanying crew led the Gettysburg Memorial Day Parade through the town to the National Cemetery where their Commanding Officer, Capt. Megan Thomas, joined several dignitaries in sharing remarks at a ceremony held at the historic Gettysburg Rostrum.
“While I have proudly and solemnly attended Memorial Day ceremonies in cities across our great Nation, I have never been in a location with greater significance to the meaning of this day than today,” said Thomas.
“Deeds, not Words,” she continued. “Derived from President’s Lincoln’s address, it is the motto of the great warship I am extremely proud to command, and I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to the actions of the brave soldiers who fought here nearly 158 years ago, or a greater reminder to those who serve aboard USS Gettysburg today. As we endeavor to modernize our 30-year old warship into one of the most capable platforms in the world, we realize that it is not enough to merely talk the talk, we must walk the walk.”
The crew from the guided-missile cruiser were participants in several holiday observances, spent time building relationships with the local residents and walking through the hallowed ground of the Gettysburg National Military Park. Part of the crew stayed overnight on the battlefield in the bullet riddled “Sherfy House” that withstood the onslaught of rifle and cannon fire of Pickett’s Charge on the final day of the three-day battle.
The Gettysburg Foundation facilitated for the guests, a guided tour of the Spangler Farm, a central location on the National Military Park followed by visits to other sites where the Union Soliders fought and died 158 years ago to preserve the Union and make all people free.
“Participating in Memorial Day celebrations held in such a historically important place for all Americans was an extremely gratifying experience,” said Ens. Kennedy Robertson, a native of San Antonio, Texas. “I’ve gained a newfound sense of pride and honor in being able to say that I represent and protect our country as a U.S. Navy Sailor.”
“The highlight of the trip for me was walking down the streets during the parade,” said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Chiquittia Mahaley, a native of Athens, Ala. “Seeing all the love, support and appreciation was like no other. It was so meaningful to see the history of where the name of our ship came from. Also, just being able to visit with vets and experience Memorial Day in such a historical town!”
A Gettysburg native, Fire Controlman Chief Joshua Straw took the opportunity to have his reenlistment ceremony on the original site of President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” in front of the crew and many area family and friends.
“I never could have imagined that things would line up so that I could reenlist in my hometown of Gettysburg on Memorial Day,” said Straw as his family and friends gathered to celebrate the moment with him.
With a crew of about 330, USS Gettysburg is homeported in Norfolk, Va., and in the final stages of the Cruiser Modification and Service Life Extension Program, which will add several additional Memorial Days for the ship and her crew to further serve our Nation.