As 'war' rages on commemorating 150th anniversary, Gettysburg vendors hope to cash in
Shaara said other scenes in and around Gettysburg this anniversary week had to be taken into account, like lines of Boy Scouts eagerly going through the National Park Visitors Center; or dedicated history buffs wearing wool uniforms on a sunny summer afternoon marching in detailed formations to recreate the fighting.
"There are a myriad of draws of why people come here. The commercialism? We're a capitalist society. You're free to open a store and sell whatever it is you want to sell," he said. "But to me, it doesn't destroy what's here. It's sort of a necessary part of it."
Many other visitors said modern Gettysburg strikes the appropriate balance between capitalizing on its notoriety and paying reverence to the conflict.
No amusement parks. No roller coasters.
"This kind of brings history alive," said Dave Gish, 54, a pastor from Wilton, Conn., who took photos of a re-enactment between Union and Confederate cavalry featuring hundreds of horses. "It's the kind of thing where this is pretty much what you're coming for."
Capitalism is at work on the grounds of the re-enactment, as well.
Re-enactors and shoppers seeking authentic trinkets can head 19th-century-style tent city where shopkeepers offer items appropriate for the period or to re-stock the soldiers — just like traveling suppliers did in the 1860s.
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