July 2, 2013

Visitors flock to remember Gettysburg battle

By Genaro C. Armas / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Tim Jenkins of Virginia views the Devil's Den from Little Round Top during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on Monday in Gettysburg, Pa.

The Associated Press

The Park Service has said it doesn't keep official counts of visitors to battlefield programs, which are free and don't require registration. Gettysburg National Military Park typically attracts 1.2 million visitors a year – a mark that officials expect to easily exceed thanks in large part to the 10-day anniversary period that ends July 7.

Many visitors seek to re-trace their ancestors' footsteps after investigating family roots, said Park Ranger Andrew Newman, normally a curator at the park's museum who was helping with crowd control and traffic Tuesday at the Wheatfield.

"They learn that they've been at a certain event or a certain part of this battle, then they learn more of their stories and there are letters they find," Newman said. "Maybe there's a comrade that they can get an account" of the battle.

At the Wheatfield site, David Runyon, 59, of Aliquippa, Pa., was joined by his wife and son to remember Runyon's great-great-great-grandfather, Union soldier Thomas Thornburgh. Runyon said his distant relative was badly wounded at the Wheatfield before being taken prisoner and dying at a hospital in Virginia.

"It's the first time we've been here on the day," wife Terri Runyon said, "and something that we've always wanted to do on the 150th anniversary."

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