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Abstract

"We have real cause for being proud of our past and the heritage it has given us ... We have a rich past ... along with this heritage we have had thrust upon us a deep responsibility," John S. Rice said in 1959. Indeed, it was the same sense of deep responsibility that had motivated him in anticipation of 1938. That year marked the seventy- fifth anniversary of the cataclysmic, three-day battle that was waged in the fields and farm lanes surrounding the seat of his native Adams County, Pennsylvania. Rice's cognizance of the importance not only of the Battle of Gettysburg - but of commemorating it - led the state senator to introduce legislation providing for a state battle anniversary commission; soon thereafter, by virtue of a gubernatorial appointment, Senator Rice found himself the commission's chairman. In this capacity, Rice spurred interest in remembrance; he fostered connections with local, state, and federal leaders and organizations; he coordinated the construction of a vast "tent city" and secured amenities for the attendees; he organized the proceedings and crafted the program for a "final reunion" of the Blue and Gray; he arranged for the construction of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. Finally, he accomplished each of these objectives efficiently and economically. [excerpt]

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