Tomorrow, July 3rd, to mark the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Vicksburg, the Vicksburg National Military Park will hold a Grand Illumination. This is probably a once in a lifetime event, or depending on how long you live, a very rare one, and will be a unique way to view the park and reflect on the meaning of the monuments :
On Wednesday, July 3, 2013, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Vicksburg National Military Park will partner with Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign to create a Grand Illumination to honor the 19,233 soldiers, both Union and Confederate, who became casualties during the Civil War Campaign for Vicksburg.
Dating back to the American Revolution, one of the greatest honors a community could render was conducting a Grand Illumination. Throughout the Civil War there were stories of “illuminations” including one of the largest recorded in Washington D.C. only five days after the end of the War.
“Hundreds of volunteers will honor the souls of the twenty thousand Civil War casualties at Vicksburg by lighting luminaries on July 3, the 150th Anniversary of the decision to surrender Vicksburg and forever change the course of our nation’s history,” said Bess Averett, Executive Director of Friends of VNMP and Campaign. “I am so proud of our community for working together to honor these men who paid the ultimate price in this meaningful tribute to commemorate the Sesquicentennial.”
Luminaries representing men who were killed, wounded, or went missing will be placed at the major state memorials – one luminary for each soldier from that state who was a casualty. The park tour road will be open to motor vehicles from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The only access will be through the Clay Street entrance. Due to safety concerns, the park will be closed to walkers, runners, and bicyclists in the park during those hours.
Visitors should expect their drive to last about 2 hours, depending on traffic. Those wishing a shorter experience may exit the park at Fort Hill. There is no entry or re-entry to the park, via Cherry Street/Fort Hill Drive. There also will be no open restroom facilities available during the illumination.
Drivers should ensure that their vehicle’s headlights remain on at all times, and should also be alert for wildlife while they are in the park. Stopping or exiting vehicles along the tour road will be prohibited.
In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1; dispatchers will notify park rangers immediately.
Volunteers interested in helping with set-up and clean-up of the luminaries, should contact Bess Averett, Director of the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, at email@example.com for further information.
In the event of inclement weather, the illumination will be postponed until Friday, July 5, 2013, at the same hours. For additional information about this event, contact Vicksburg National Military Park at 601-636-0583.