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Weldon Petz

June 2024
1min read


My great-uncle played cornet for the 5th New York Artillery band, which performed at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. My uncle used to sit me down and tell me how he saw Lincoln that day; it was in a special way. As Lincoln spoke, his face was reflected in the shiny bell of my uncle’s brass horn. My uncle never forgot seeing that image of Lincoln floating in his instrument like some sort of vision, and neither have I. He died in his nineties—I was thirteen—and he left me all his Civil War things, including the horn. I still have it.

He remembered it was chilly that day and that even though he sat right down in front, he could hear Lincoln only faintly. He doubted whether the thousands of people gathered ever heard much of the speech. Afterward he walked around to the outskirts of the crowd and saw hucksters selling souvenirs. He bought a glass hatchet, printed on the blade of which was the little caption “Gettysburg 1863.” He gave me that too.

So I became just like my uncle, a horn player and a Lincoln collector.

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