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In Gettysburg, celebrating Medal of Honor winners

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By Brandie Kessler and Lillian Reed
Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

GETTYSBURG — Deep within the archives of the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, nestled between historic documents and archaeological battlefield treasures, four Medals of Honor are tucked away.

Recently, museum specialist Paul Shevchuk — one of three people at the museum who handle the artifacts in the collection — brought the medals out to breathe.

His hands swathed in white cotton gloves, Shevchuk carefully pulled a small leather box from its case and placed it on a metal examining table. Inside was one of the first Medals of Honor in its original design.

The bronze was slightly tarnished, and the ribbon was frayed. Almost 150 years ago, in October 1864, President Abraham Lincoln presented it to Color Sgt. Daniel P. Reigle.

The medal was awarded to Reigle for his actions at the Battle of Cedar Creek, but Gettysburg is an appropriate home for it because Reigle was born in Adams County and lived in Littlestown after the war. He is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Littlestown.

The other medals in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center collection were awarded for action in the Battle of Gettysburg. As many as 79 other medals may make their way to Gettysburg when the annual Medal of Honor Convention is held in the Wyndham Gettysburg from Wednesday through Saturday.

All 79 living recipients of the medal are invited, and about 50 are expected to attend, said Bob Monahan, president and CEO of the convention.

Several events will be open to the public, though they will require tickets, he said.

However, the National Park Service's collection of Medals of Honor will remain locked away in the archives during the convention.

In 1904, the Medal of Honor was redesigned, and those who had received the medal previously were presented with the newer version.

There are no plans to put medals from the collection on display for the Medal of Honor Conference.

“They're on vacation,” Shevchuk said, explaining that artifacts need time to rest, much like people do.

Plus, Katie Lawhon, management assistant for Gettysburg National Military Park, pointed out that those attending the Medal of Honor conference will be bringing their own medals with them.

Brandie Kessler and Lillian Reed are staff writers for the (Hanover) Evening Sun.

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