GETTYSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard (USNCG) participated in a Community Relations (COMREL) event held at Gettysburg National Military Park, May 19.
The USNCG participated in the COMREL to conserve, preserve and clean the site of the Civil War-era Battle of Gettysburg, fought between Union and Confederate forces from 1-3 July, 1863.
"This is a site of sacred ground," said retired Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Mark Hacala, USNCG's Training Officer and ceremonial specialist. "We set up this [COMREL] in coordination with the battlefield staff and found an opportunity to maintain a significant part of the battlefield."
John Heiser, a historian from Gettysburg National Military Park, welcomed the Sailors and took a moment to explain the significance of the site.
"Today these Sailors are doing a tremendous service to the park and to military history," said Heiser. "We welcome them to this site and appreciate the task they are carrying out to honor the service of those who came before them."
Sailors removed debris, shrubs and trees from Gettysburg's Little Round Top, the site of a successful defense against Confederate forces who attacked the Union Army's left flank.
"Taking care of our landmark locations and preserving our history is a great way to help keep educated in this nation's heritage," said Aviation Machinist Mate Airman Ryan Dailey, from Louisville, Kentucky. "We can learn a lot about who we can thank for what we have today by conserving these historical places."
Prior to the COMREL, the park conducted a controlled burn of the site meant to control the growth of the land and preserve it as it appeared in 1863. Sailors finished the preservation by removing the resulting debris.
"This site gives Sailors the opportunity to come an area that has a strong point of military heritage," said Hacala. "This event allows visitors that come throughout the course of the year to see this the way the people who fought here did back in 1863."
The battle of Gettysburg resulted in the largest casualties of the Civil War and ended Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North. Through the COMREL, Sailors gained a new appreciation for the bravery and sacrifice their military predecessors gave during the American Civil War.
"Being at such a beautiful location where such tragic events happened is a solid reminder of what we as service members might give to our country," said Daily. "The terrain and today's weather is rough and unforgiving even in these modern uniforms. I could only imagine what it was like during the [Civil] War."
COMRELs are carried out to spread the goodwill of the Navy and build relations with nearby communities, but the Sailors also used took the opportunity to pay their respects at the battle site.
"This place is important to me and to the Ceremonial Guard," said Master-at-Arms Seaman Alyssa Keller, from Summerville, S.C. "Being in the military, it gives me great pride to see this place and great honor to maintain its preservation."
The USNCG is the Navy's drill center of excellence and represents the Chief of Naval Operations in presidential, joint armed services, Navy and public ceremonies in the Nation's Capitol and across the country.
For more news from U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, visit www.navy.mil/local/cerguard/.