main story image for facebook sharing

Around The Fleet

On Hallowed Ground

CG 64 Sailors honor their ship's namesake

"We cannot escape history." Although these words were uttered by President Abraham Lincoln during his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862, this message rang true for Sailors from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) during their trip to Gettysburg, Pa.

"We cannot escape history."

Although these words were uttered by President Abraham Lincoln during his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862, this message rang true for Sailors from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) during their trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the 152nd Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The group of 18 Sailors drove more than 11 hours from their homeport in Mayport, Florida, to Gettysburg for what would become more than a history lesson.

Prior to the USS Gettysburg's commissioning in 1991, the captain and the crew were loaned Civil War artifacts from the Battle of Gettysburg for display onboard the ship. These artifacts were to serve as a physical connection from the Sailors to the ship's history and namesake.

Twenty-four years later, as the ship prepares to undergo major modernization, the Sailors returned the artifacts to Gettysburg for safe-keeping and proper maintenance.

"There is some care required for the artifacts," said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Strickland, executive officer for Gettysburg. "The best idea is to return it to the master preservationists at the Gettysburg Memorial Foundation."
A Sailor stands on a rock overlooking Little Round Top at Gettysburg National Military Park.


Decked out in their dress whites, the Sailors presented the items back to the Foundation. Despite giving back their little pieces of history, the ship's connection to the town would not be lost. By the end of the week, nearly all of the visiting Sailors would feel a stronger connection to the heritage of their namesake. Over the next few days, these Sailors would spend hours touring the battlefields with a licensed Gettysburg National Military Park tour guide, as well as participating in clean-up projects for community improvement around the town.

Among these projects was clearing the front of Little Round Top of excess shrubbery and brush. As the Gettysburg Sailors trimmed and cleaned their way through the overgrown brush, the significance of their place in history started to sink in.

"When we were at Little Round Top clearing shrubs away, we were actually finding different rock formations that were made for barriers during the battle," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Noah Dubin, "It was weird to think- what would they do if they went up this hill? What did they do at this cliff?"

Thousands of soldiers perished during the Battle of Gettysburg, hundreds of them during the Battle of Little Round Top.

Our Chief said something interesting when we were up there clearing the brush," Dubin said. "Chief said, 'Just think: the land that we're pulling right now, the trees we're pulling were fertilized by the blood of those who gave their lives.'"

The significance of these battles - of what happened on this hallowed ground - resonated with each of the Sailors.

"You think about what those soldiers were thinking as they charged: cannons firing behind them, cannons firing in front of them - that kind of sense of mortality and deep sense of fear," Strickland said. "It's definitely humbling to think about."

One of the initial motivations for this trip was to establish a connection between the USS Gettysburg Sailors and their heritage of the battle and those who participated in it. Civil War soldiers and Sailors were dedicated, hard-working individuals not unlike the service members of today. Ready to follow orders and prepared to go into harm's way at any time, the heart of military service is not too different from what it was in the 1860's.
Gettysburg reenactors


"Honestly, being right here, knowing that 152 years ago they were doing what they were doing - it's a little eerie," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Christopher Eckert. "I can't imagine how difficult it was for them. I'm glad I'm here, 152 years later.

Most of the Gettysburg Sailors had never been to the town before, and many had never given a second thought about the significance of their ship's namesake.

"I never truly understood the full history and sacrifice Americans gave in this town," said Electrician's Mate Fireman Patrick Morrissey. "Now I'm more honored to represent the USS Gettysburg."

This resonance was precisely what Strickland was hoping for as a result of their journey to Gettysburg.

"I hope they walk away with profound respect for the soldiers that marched across this battlefield to their deaths," Strickland said. "And what that really means as a namesake to Gettysburg."

During his famous Gettysburg Address, Lincoln proclaimed, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

After spending four days among the battlefields of Gettysburg, Lincoln's words have never been more true than they were now for these Sailors of USS Gettysburg.

Click here for more news from USS Gettysburg (CG 64)
  • A Sailor looks at the names of soldiers from the 68th Infantry on the Pennsylvania Monument

    Chief Information Systems Technician George Bogovich, assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64), looks at the names of soldiers from the 68th Infantry on the Pennsylvania Monument on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pa. Photo by MC3 Rachel E. Rakoff

  • Chief Master-at-Arms Dustin Alexander, from USS Gettysburg (CG 64), holds a display of Civil War-era bullets

    Chief Master-at-Arms Dustin Alexander, from USS Gettysburg (CG 64), holds a display of Civil War-era bullets. Photo by MC3 Rachel E. Rakoff

  • CG 64 Sailors listen to a tour guide at Gettysburg National Military Park

    CG 64 Sailors listen to a tour guide at Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo by MC3 Rachel E. Rakoff

  • FC2 Class Dominique Accettola clears brush from Little Round Top at Gettysburg National Military Park.

    FC2 Class Dominique Accettola, from USS Gettysburg (CG 64), clears brush from Little Round Top at Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo by MC3 Class Rachel E. Rakoff

  • 150702-N-PB383-104