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Havre de Grace council recalls Gettysburg battle, speech

The Havre de Grace City Council had no official business on its last meeting before Independence Day, but council members did use the approaching holiday to remind residents about the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the famous speech that followed it a few months later.

Councilman and public school history teacher Bill Martin asked each council member to recite a line from Abraham Lincoln's historic Gettysburg Address and called the Battle of Gettysburg an event of international importance.

The Civil War battle between troops from the Union and Confederacy took place July 1-3, 1863. Lincoln's speech was delivered on Nov. 19, 1863, during the dedication of a soldiers cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa.

Prior to the battle, Martin said, European wars had been fought for either God, gold or glory.

"I think what baffles the world is we didn't fight it over any of those things. We fought over ideas," Martin said. "The world must have been in awe as they sat back and read newspapers... about what was going on in North America and [the soldiers] just butchered themselves wholesale."

"It takes an American to beat an American, and Americans don't give up easy," Martin continued, saying the number of dead was staggering. "Yes, there were different reasons the war was fought but it's just mind boggling when you look at the numbers."

"The battle is so big in American history, in world history, actually," he said. "There's never been a battle like it in this hemisphere."

Martin also called Lincoln a "master" of plain writing and reflecting what everyone else was already feeling.

Councilman Randy Craig, meanwhile, reflected on the relatively shorter meeting, which was mostly filled with council members' reflections.

"Sometimes a little government can do a whole lot," Craig said. "There does come an opportunity just to reflect on times that's passed."

Mayor Wayne Dougherty called Monday "kind of disappointing," as the new statewide gas tax went into effect, adding that the city has done everything it can to keep costs down and offering personal property tax relief.

"We try to do everything on the local level but we kind of get hit on some other areas," Dougherty said.

Councilman Fred Cullum said it was "very disappointing" that only 20 residents came out to a recent meeting announcing the city's new zoning plans.

He said he hopes more people will show up when the zoning review comes before the planning commission and asked Dougherty if a ConnectCTY message could be used to announce it.

Councilman Dave Glenn said he is glad a new Havre de Grace High School is now on the county's radar even though it did not get put onto the Board of Education latest facilities plan.

"They know we are there," Glenn said. The school "is something that is long overdue and our kids deserve the best and we will keep fighting the fight until we win the battle."

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