The Saturday Evening Post

A TIME TO LAUGH, A TIME TO WEEP

The old veterans couldn’t wait to come. Roads ran thick with automobiles and horse buggies. Most arrived on the nation’s sprawling rails. A few walked more than 100 miles. An 85-year-old man, fearing his son would prevent him from going, crawled out a window and caught a train.

Altogether, an estimated 50,000 of the blue and gray trekked to the Great Reunion, a grand commemoration at iconic Gettysburg, on that battle’s 50th anniversary: July 1 to 3, 1913.

“I will see if I can find the exact spot where I was struck with a federal ‘minnie’ ball.”
—Confederate F.O. Yates

Why did they go? According to the many politicians and generals who also came to the reunion, the reason was clear: There was an urgent need for unity. At that very moment, U.S. ground forces were in Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. Trouble in the Balkans threatened to escalate into a much larger European crisis. Not mentioned but certainly pressing were the many bitter divisions at home.Co n s er vat ive s were continuously fighting progressives over Jim Crow and lynching,

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