Gettysburg Story Tour + Film

  • Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays from The Gettysburg Story

    By Jake Boritt

    "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is a Christmas carol based on the 1863 poem "Christmas Bells" by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men". The carol concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among men.

    During the American Civil War, Longfellow's oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father's blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. "I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer", he wrote. "I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good".[2] Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded[3] in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia), during the Mine Run Campaign. References to the civil war are prevalent in some of the verses that are not commonly sung.

    He first wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863.[4] "Christmas Bells" was first published in February 1865, in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.[5] Two years before writing this poem, his personal peace was shaken when his second wife of 18 years, to whom he was very devoted, was tragically burned in a fire.

    The following are the original words of Longfellow's poem:

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day

    Their old, familiar carols play,

    and wild and sweet

    The words repeat

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,

    The belfries of all Christendom

    Had rolled along

    The unbroken song

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,

    The world revolved from night to day,

    A voice, a chime,

    A chant sublime

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth

    The cannon thundered in the South,

    And with the sound

    The carols drowned

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent

    The hearth-stones of a continent,

    And made forlorn

    The households born

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;

    "There is no peace on earth," I said;

    "For hate is strong,

    And mocks the song

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

    The Wrong shall fail,

    The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, good-will to men."

    I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

    Continue reading
  • Wall Street Journal Opinion: Tearing Down Tyranny in Budapest by Gabor S. Boritt

    From the Wall Street Journal (paywall):

    Tearing Down Tyranny in Budapest

    In 1956, Hungarian freedom fighters broadcast the Gettysburg Address


    This week marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Hungarian Revolution on Oct. 23, 1956. I was 16 years old.

    On that day I helped pull down a massive bronze statue of the Russian tyrant Joseph Stalin in my home city of Budapest. The gigantic hollow bronze had been placed in one of the prominent parts of the city, where a chapel used to stand. Tyranny crumbled that day. I grabbed a small scrap of bronze from the fallen statue.

    Two weeks later, in the early morning of Nov. 4, under orders from another Russian tyrant, 3,000 tanks crushed our fight for freedom. Hungarian freedom fighters’ radio broadcast Lincoln’s Gettysburg address pleading for help for their cause.

    Soviet tank fire crumbled buildings. My family’s home collapsed above as we took shelter in the cellar. I climbed out of that rubble, wiping dust from my temple. Two days later and thousands of miles away, the U.S. voted to elect Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. Eisenhower voted that morning in his hometown of Gettysburg.

    I fled Budapest, leaving my home carrying only what fit in my pockets—including that scrap of metal. I crossed the Hungarian frontier, running past a wall of barbed wire and watchtowers into Austria. I was now a refugee—one of 200,000. In the months that followed, Eisenhower’s administration welcomed 40,000 of us to the U.S. Eisenhower stated that: “All free nations share to the extent of their capabilities in the responsibility of granting asylum to victims of Communist persecution.”

    Once in America I learned English by reading the words of the greatest president— Abraham Lincoln. I made my life’s work as a scholar of the Civil War and Lincoln, celebrating his belief in every American’s right to rise.

    For nearly three decades I taught Civil War history at Gettysburg College. I married, raised a family and settled on a farm in Gettysburg that had served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and later as a Confederate battle hospital. It is near Eisenhower’s home and the cemetery where Lincoln spoke.

    Americans may read about tyranny, but only those who lived it know how it feels—and how it feels to tear it down. I lost my bronze relic from that day 60 years ago, throwing it away as I threw away so much of my beginnings to become an American.

    I was born under tyranny but I found a new birth of freedom in America, a nation that gave me the opportunity to pursue my right to rise in life. May this country and its president continue to offer such hope to those who come after me.

    Dr. Boritt, professor emeritus at Gettysburg College, is author of “The Gettysburg Gospel” and “Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream.” His son, Jake Boritt, a filmmaker, helped him with this article.

    Continue reading
  • Gabor Boritt’s new book contemplates Abraham Lincoln’s meditations

    BY JESSICA RUDY Times Night Editor

    Gettysburg Times

    Posted: Monday, December 15, 2014 12:18 am



    Much of Dr. Gabor S. Boritt’s life has been dedicated to the study of a singularly meditative man – 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln. “Abraham Lincoln is important to me,” Boritt has said.


    Throughout his years of writing and thinking about Lincoln, Boritt has published volumes exploring Lincoln’s leadership, both politically and militarily, his influences and how he has influenced others, and his speech at Gettysburg. This is in addition to works examining Gettysburg, the underpinnings of the Civil War, and issues relating to the Confederacy.


    Many of these volumes have been academic in nature, but Boritt’s latest offering on the enigmatic president is purely meditative in nature.


    “The Will of God Prevails,” released this fall, touches on God and the Gettysburg Address through Lincoln’s own words.


    According to Boritt, the book was born in the 1980s.


    “I woke up, and I knew what I wanted to do,” said Boritt in a recent interview.


    That morning, he took two of his sons to school, and the other to a neighbor’s house. As he recalls, his wife, Elizabeth, was out of town. He then settled in for a morning of work on his Civil War era farm outside of Gettysburg. A fresh snow covered the ground, making the surroundings perfect for mulling Lincoln.


    In hours, Boritt had compiled 16 meditations, mostly quotes taken from Lincoln’s letters and speeches while in office.


    Putting aside the writing, intending to get back to it eventually, Boritt continued with his teaching duties. He taught for almost three decades at Gettysburg College until retirement in 2009.


    Years later, Boritt returned to the collection and decided to prepare it to share with others.


    It is his first new book in more than seven years, and is significant as a milestone for Boritt.


    After dealing with a stroke that initially made it difficult to write, Boritt was determined to make a return to putting pen to paper.


    “This is the first time I was able to write a little book,” he explained.


    It didn’t take him long to pick up where he left off.


    “It comes back, like bang,” he smiled.

    After he was secure with the text, he knew he wanted to set off Lincoln’s meditations with visual art from folks just as passionate about the 16th president as himself.

    Enter Wendy Allen and Sam Fink, whose work is showcased in the slim volume.

    According to Boritt, he and Fink became close friends after Fink’s work was showcased via the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. “The Will of God Prevails” showcases several pieces by Fink, who passed away in 2011, courtesy of both the Boritt family collection and Gettysburg College Special Collections. They were photographed for publication by local photographer Bert Danielson. Other works by Fink are provided courtesy of his publisher.

    Wendy Allen’s work is also showcased in the volume. Allen, who has a gallery in Gettysburg, is known for her body of work focusing on Lincoln and his countenance, and his symbolism for the American community. She and Boritt are also friends thanks to the Civil War Institute, which Boritt led for more than two decades.

    For Boritt, “The Will of God Prevails” is clearly a labor of love, representing collaboration between friends and family, and Boritt’s continuing intellectual relationship with one of the United States’ most studied presidents.


    “I hope this little book may work,” he concluded.

    “The Will of God Prevails” is currently available online -   and at Gallery 30 in Gettysburg. More information on the book and how to purchase it is available at [email protected] .








    Continue reading
  • Fly in new Gettysburg Story Balloon with Actor Stephen Lang On July 4!

    The Gettysburg Story and Gettysburg Heritage Center Present Hollywood Star on July 4 at Noon

    June 12, 2014

    Gettysburg, PA

    For Immediate Release


    At noon on July 4 acclaimed actor Stephen Lang will participate in a meet and greet at the new Gettysburg Heritage Center.  The event is part of the commemoration of America’s greatest battle and the launching of the new Gettysburg Story Balloon at the Gettysburg Heritage Center.  Lang will meet fans and autograph items in the Gift Center.


    As an added benefit, with each purchase of The Gettysburg Story (DVD, Blu-ray or Auto Tour) from June 10 through the end of the signing July 4th, guests will be entered into a drawing to be one of 15 individuals selected to receive a complimentary helium balloon ride with Stephen Lang.  The ride will occur immediately after the signing.  In the event of inclement weather, winners will receive a voucher for a future complimentary ride.


    The new Gettysburg Story Balloon at Gettysburg Heritage Center launches in summer 2014. This new experience is created by Aeroballoon a leader in passenger-carrying tethered balloons.  AeroBalloon is silent, non-polluting, & memorable for the entire family.  The balloon will show visitors Gettysburg as they have never seen it before, soaring hundreds of feet in the air to see the epic battlefield landscape.  The


    Stephen Lang, best known as Colonel Quaritch in James Cameron’s Avatar, and known by Civil War buffs as "SLang" for his roles as General Pickett in Gettysburg and as Stonewall Jackson in Gods and Generals.  He is currently playing Increase Mather in WGN’s ‘Salem’ television series. He has agreed to reprise his role as Col. Quaritch in 3 sequels to Avatar.


    The Gettysburg Story, directed by Jake Boritt uses aerial cinematography, motion-control time-lapse, and 3-D animated maps to bring the stories of Lincoln, Lee, Meade and others to a new generation. Released for the 150th anniversary of the historic battle, the groundbreaking film was broadcast on Public Television to 85% of the nation.  Through the summer the film will play regularly at Gettysburg’s Majestic Theater.  It is now available on home video and for educational use.


    The companion Battlefield Auto Tour presents a gripping journey through the Gettysburg Battlefield following the official National Park Auto Tour route. It is based on the works of renowned historian and author, Gabor Boritt. Now this unique experience is brought to thousands more by acclaimed actor Lang.  For new visitors and buffs alike, Lang's stunning performance brings alive the story of the battle and Lincoln's nation-changing address.



    The Gettysburg Heritage Center, formerly the American Civil War Wax Museum, reopened on May 5th.   Due to the ongoing renovations, The Heritage Center will extend complimentary admission through December 31, 2014.


    The focus of the new Heritage Center is “the town, the people, and their stories;” where ordinary people did extraordinary things. Utilizing artifacts; 3-D programing; and interactive exhibits, visitors will experience life as it was for those who lived in Gettysburg before, during and after the battle.


    Until recently only the new high-definition theater and gift store were accessible to guests.  Beginning July 1, the first phase of the exhibit space will be open. The multi-year project will continue to change, adding more details, interactive experiences and artifacts to the story of the people of Gettysburg


    The new theater production focuses on the three-day battle, and the aftermath of the conflict. Developed in collaboration with the Civil War Trust, the movie creates a concise overview for those with limited knowledge, yet offers new insight to avid Gettysburg historians.


    The gift store continues to offer a wide selection of books, gifts and collectibles, home décor, souvenirs, replica weapons, games and toys, apparel, and much more.






    Tammy Myers, CTA

    Gettysburg Heritage Center

    297 Steinwehr Avenue

    Gettysburg, PA 17325




    Continue reading

    For Immediate Release

    Telephone: 917.617.4401

    Email: GettysburgStory(AT)




    The Gettysburg Story, Narrated by Stephen Lang, to be broadcast via MPT for 150th Anniversary of Historic Battle


    For Immediate Release

    March 4, 2013


    ‘The Gettysburg Story,’ a new documentary film, is currently being completed to air on public television in summer 2013 for the 150th anniversary of the historic battle.  Directed by filmmaker Jake Boritt, 'The Gettysburg Story' dramatically tells the history of the greatest battle fought in the Western Hemisphere. The stories of characters who experience the battle come alive through dynamic, innovative imagery that captures the historic battleground as it has never been seen it before. The film will be distributed for national syndication on public television by MPT (Maryland Public Television).



    July 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. This three-day battle changed the course of American history. In 1863 George Meade's Union army defeated Robert E. Lee's Confederate army in the bloodiest battle in American history. Four months later Abraham Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery by delivering his Gettysburg Address calling for "a new birth of freedom."


    Filmmaker Jake Boritt said, “Our greatest challenge with this project, or any project about Gettysburg 150 years later, is creating something fresh. Now,we want to tell the story for our time, using cutting-edge story-telling technologies. We will create for the viewer a new lens through which to watch the battle story unfold in clear and dramatic terms. Our goal for ‘The Gettysburg Story’ is to capture a unique, timeless American place - a story we all should know - as it's never been seen before.”


    Boritt continues, “Over the last 150 years, the Battle of Gettysburg has become the stuff of legend, told and retold using contemporary technologies of each generation: from glass plate negatives to woodcut prints, black and white silent films, bestselling novels and TV miniseries.

    Now, using cutting edge technologies – including high definition radio control aerial drone cinematography, motion control time-lapse footage, dynamic digital geolocation graphic maps, and more – we are bringing the story of Gettysburg alive for the latest generation.”


    Through years of preparation and close cooperation with the National Park Service, the production has been granted unprecedented access to the 6,000-acre battlefield. The latest imaging and editing technologies allow the presentation and reinterpretation of the timeless Civil War narrative, capturing the iconic landscape of the town and battlefield, for a new generation of viewers.


    Acclaimed actor Stephen Lang who is best known as Colonel Quaritch in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ narrates the film. Civil War buffs know "SLang" for his roles as General Pickett in 'Gettysburg' and as Stonewall Jackson in 'Gods and Generals.' 

    Filmmaker Jake Boritt was raised on a Civil War farm in Gettysburg, his films include 'Adams County USA' (2002), 'Budapest to Gettysburg' (2007) and '759: Boys Scouts of Harlem'(2010).  He wrote and produced 'The Gettysburg Story: Battlefield Auto Tour," a bestseller based on works by his father, historian Gabor Boritt.


    Aerial Cinema

    To tell this story an array of innovative technology is being used including radio-controlled helicopters equipped with electronic gyro stabilization and mounted with high definition cameras. West Coast-based FreeFly Cinema, a pioneer in this rapidly evolving field, captured the battlefield in stunning clarity from never before seen vantage points. The high-resolution imagery captures battle sites from inches above the ground to 400 feet in the air. Aerial drones allowed the camera to follow the flow of battle over the exact ground men fought and died on 150 years ago. Footage was also shot with a full size Bell JetRanger helicopter and with a 5K Red Epic digital camera to capture the storied landscape in rich colors and unparalleled resolution.


    Time-Lapse Cinema

    Using technology at the vanguard of the industry for motion control time-lapse cinematography the landscape is filmed in a new and dramatic fashion. The production team is working with companies like Dynamic Perception and cinematographers that are spearheading this new art form, including Cameron Michael, Shawn Reeder and Jay Burlage.


    One of the very unique aspects of this project is that it marks the first time the National Park Service has permitted a film crew to shoot on the battlefield at night. The amazing low light capabilities of the latest cameras allow shooters to capture the ethereal beauty of the battlefield as billions of stars pass overheard. The team is producing never before seen imagery from the soldiers’ perspective that transfixes the viewer.


    Fundraising Campaign Launched on Kickstarter Platform

    ‘The Gettysburg Story’ Kickstarter fundraising campaign began on March 1 with a goal of crowdfunding $25,000 to complete the final details of the film in time for the 150th anniversary in July, 2013. With principal photography complete contributions will be used to edit time-lapse and aerial footage, create maps, record and mix the music, and combine everything to complete the finished film.


    The History of the Battle

    In June 1863 the United States and its beleaguered President Abraham Lincoln are being torn apart by Civil War between North and South. Robert E. Lee's seemingly invincible Confederate army is ready to win the war by crushing the Union army in Northern territory. Lee's men advance into Pennsylvania. On June 28 Lincoln names George Meade his new Commanding General. Three days later Meade will lead his men into the greatest battle ever fought in North America.


    First  Day

    The battle begins on July 1 as both sides race to the crossroads town of Gettysburg. The Rebels gain the advantage and the Union forces retreat in panic. It appears Lee will gain the decisive victory he desires on Northern soil. Most of Gettysburg's civilians hide in their cellars but Jennie Wade offers water and bread to Unions. African-Americans flee the oncoming Confederate army. Union General Hancock arrives and rallies Union men on Cemetery Hill. Then, despite protests from his best general, James Longstreet, Lee makes plans to attack the Union position.


    Second Day

    On the second day of battle Confederates attack the Union flanks. The Rebels take Devils Den, the Peach Orchard and charge onward. Fierce fighting by Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine Regiment and others barely holds the high ground of Little Round Top. A young private named Isaac Taylor with his First Minnesota regiment, outnumbered 5 to 1, charges into advancing Confederates hoping to stall the massive force and allow Union reinforcements to save their position. Soon Rebels attack the opposite end of the Union line, crucial positions on Culps and Cemetery Hills. The foresight of 62 year old General George Greene to build entrenchments allows 1,500 Union men to hold off 5,000 Confederate soldiers as fighting rages into the night. The Union barely hold their ground and Lee believes one more attack will force them to retreat. Meade's generals, their men battered, decide to stand their ground.


    Third Day

    On the third day, following the largest cannon bombardment in American history, 13,000 Confederate soldiers march across open fields to charge upon the Union center: Pickett's Charge. Under constant fire, only 250 of them will make it across to Bloody Angle. At the High Water Mark Rebel General Lewis Armistead falls, yards from his best friend, the Union General Hancock. The Union repulses the great charge and win the battle.


    Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

    In the days that follow the battle Lee's crippled army escapes back to Virginia, prolonging the war. Now nearly 10,000 rotting bodies lie on the fields, in what is the greatest manmade disaster in American history. Four months after the battle, Abraham Lincoln, standing over fresh graves in Gettysburg, explains to the nation why the brutal war must go on. In his Gettysburg Address Lincoln redefines American democracy expanding freedom.



    Continue reading
< Older entries