On C-SPAN 3 (a non profit cable channel initially created by the cable industry here in the United Stats) I've been watching live coverage of various Civil War historians giving talks about various aspects of the battle and the people who were part of it.
Earlier this evening, I watched a live interview with writer Jeff Shaara. He is not a historian, but a writer of historical fiction. When he writes a novel (Civil War oriented or otherwise) he goes directly to source documents, and, for him, "it's all about the characters". He tells history through the story of the people who were involved.
Jeff Shaara also talked about the Gettysburg reunions - the 50th and 75th reunions, to be exact.
Shaara told us that, in the 50th reunion (in 1913) sicknesses ran rampant as the veterans, mostly in their 70's, camped on the battlefield. The bodies of the veterans had been weakened by malaria and dysentery suffered during the war. Now, climbing hills and hiking across land they had fought on as young men, they became sick once again.
But, they wanted so much to be there. Federal and Confederate veterans shook hands and ate together. Confederate veterans once again voiced the "rebel yell". The Civil War shaped these men - for good or bad, it followed them all their lives.
The last verified veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg died in 1950 at the age of 102.
Now it is up to future generations to remember the Civil War, the story of America's past. Part of the history of the human race.