Confederate monuments to stay at Gettysburg battlefield

FILE – In this June 5, 2013, file photo, a monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee mounted on his horse Traveller sits atop a ridge held by Confederate troops, above the field of Pickett's Charge in Gettysburg, Pa. National Park Service officials said in August 2017 that Confederate monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park will not be removed from the battlefield, and the park service's job is to historically and objectively tell the stories the monuments commemorate. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

GETTYSBURG, PA (AP) — Officials with the National Park Service said the Confederate monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania will not be removed from the battlefield.

Katie Lawhon, senior adviser for the park service’s Gettysburg battlefield office, told the Reading Eagle the site-specific memorials are important, and the park service’s job is to historically and objectively tell the stories the monuments commemorate.

Her reassurance comes after a heated debate over Confederate monuments spread across the U.S. Three people died amid turmoil in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Four protesters have been arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and Baltimore dismantled four monuments under the cover of darkness late Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

Barb Adams, a volunteer at the Gettysburg battlefield, said the removal of the statues is breaking her heart.

“It’s just so upsetting to me — these men, these soldiers fought for what they believed in,” she said.

Area tour guide Elaine Leslie suggested putting up statues honoring abolitionists Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass.

The Gettysburg battlefield has more than 1,300 monuments that tell the story of the deadliest engagement in the Civil War. Thirty of them are dedicated to Confederate states, military units and individuals. More than 7,000 soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1 to July 3, 1863.

About 3.7 million tourists visit the area each year, according to a nonprofit that promotes tourism in the county.

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