History 202 Paper #1: Weeks
As a turning point American history, Gettysburg has become an historical shrine. How Gettysburg changed, both physically and symbolically, in response to the development of America’s mass culture is the topic of Chapters 5 and 6 of Week’s Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and American Shrine. Essentially, Weeks lays out an historical chronology, especially in Chapter 5, “’These Are Touring Days’: Mass Culture Transforms Gettysburg”, how a hallowed cemetery transformed into a national park and recreation destination. In Chapter 6, “’Dad Got Us There in a Day’: Automobiles and Family Touring”, Weeks digs deeper into the automobile’s role in the development of American mass culture and the single-most important dynamic contributing to Gettysburg’s transformation.
Interestingly, Chapter 5 is like a trip through Gettysburg; a vast amount of information, chronologically organized tracing how the U.S. government’s interstate roadway system combined with the National Park Service and local entrepreneurs to replaced earlier promoters, namely Civil War veterans and railroads to convert a “vast cemetery into a park meaningful to the motoring public.” (P. 120) Accessible to a rapidly growing population, Gettysburg was given new meaning. “By the 1960’s Gettysburg reflected a national mass culture of automobile travel and family entertainment.” (P 127) Chapter 5 ends with the theme of Chapter 6 as a visitor states, “The major battle fought in Gettysburg is so commercialized and glamorized that all true sense of the horror of that war has long been forgotten.” Weeks adds, “But that was precisely the point. The Park Service, entrepreneurs, and tourist organizations had combined to shape a shrine where visitors could lose themselves in pleasant family activity.” (P. 142)
Weeks uses Chapter 6 “’Dad Got Us There in a Day’: Automobiles and Family Touring”, to describe the growing conflict and complexity of commercialization. As families...