Nothing seems to stand the test of time quite like a monument. Buildings, cities… even civilizations come and go, leaving little behind for us to glean their nature from. Monuments last. The Pyramids of Giza, the Maoi heads of Easter Island, the Parthenon: all still standing. What might future archaeologists determine about us from the Washington Monument? The Statue of Liberty? Or how about the Pennsylvania State Memorial?
If you’re not in the know, the Pennsylvania State Memorial adorns the Gettysburg Battlefield, a tribute to the Pennsylvanian soldiers who fought there. Standing an impressive 110 feet tall, you can’t miss it; it’s the largest monument on the battlefield. The base is a pedestal, accessible by stairs, from which four grand supporting towers rise to support the dome and arches. The Northeast column houses a spiral staircase that leads to an observation deck with a breathtaking view of the battlefield: don’t miss it!
As you walk the perimeter of the monument, you will notice ninety bronze, name-covered tablets embedded in the granite surface. Each plaque represents a Pennsylvanian regiment, and each name belongs to one of the 34,530 Pennsylvanian fighting men who served his family and his country in the Battle of Gettysburg. Those who were killed in the line of duty are marked with stars beside their names, to help us remember the cost of war.
Also noteworthy are the larger-than-life statues that are incorporated in the monument. Eight portrait statues, two facing in each direction, depict the heroic leaders who took part in the battle. Seven are Pennsylvanians, including General George Meade, who commanded the Army of the Potomac, and Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, who delayed Lee’s troops in Virginia and put together a state militia. The eighth statue is of President Abraham Lincoln, whose Gettysburg Address is among the nation’s most famous speeches.
Crowning the Pennsylvania State Monument is an even larger statue (21 feet tall) made with the bronze of melted-down cannons and known as The Goddess of Victory and Peace. This was modeled by sculptor Samuel Murray, who also did some bas-relief scenes and detail work on the monument. The goddess sculpture is symbolic of our preference for peace and our willingness to do what’s necessary to protect it.
What else might future archaeologists find in and around the battlefield? Visit Gettysburg and find out! Or go on our website!