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Tower Perceived as Eyesore to Come Down Today at GettysburgAired July 3, 2000 - 1:03 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Washington Monument isn't the only national heritage site getting attention today. In just under four hours, new explosions will echo across the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg. This time, it's not a Union victory over the Confederacy, it is a preservationist victory over commercial interests.
CNN's Bob Franken reports on the second battle of Gettysburg.
UNIDENTIFIED TOUR GUIDE: So if you follow me, please.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now it's tourists who swarm over these grounds. Exactly 137 years ago, these killing fields were bristling with Union and Confederate forces. Thousands died in the first days of July in 1863. Gettysburg was the most decisive battle of the Civil War. The visitors pay their respects where Abraham Lincoln came in November of 1863 to dedicate this cemetery nearby with his Gettysburg Address.
And there, just outside the cemetery, this is what they see -- but not for long. The 307-foot observation tower will be coming down.
KATIE LAWHORN, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: They're using explosives and it's going to fall like a tree.
FRANKEN: Since 1974, the tower gave the public the best view of the entire Gettysburg battle zone, but it also outraged the preservationists.
BARBARA FINFROCK, FRIENDS OF NATIONAL PARKS AT GETTYSBURG: We think it is an eyesore. Everywhere that one goes on the battlefield to interpret where these brave men fought and died and bled, one sees the intrusion of this tower.
FRANKEN: After years of controversy, the federal government took the tower away from the private businessmen who owned it, believed in it.
HANS ENGGREN, TOWER LAND OWNER: This is live. This is something you can see for yourself with your own eyes.
FRANKEN: And what of those who care enough to visit Gettysburg? DOUG TOUMEY: It sticks out like a sore thumb, like it shouldn't be there. It's out of place, and I don't think it should be here.
FRANKEN: But many others feel it serves a purpose.
RENA MACMOYLE: The only way you really can see in this area probably is by observing the full battlefield is probably by air. Very few people probably could take an airplane around the battlefield, so that would be the closest thing we can do.
FRANKEN: And in just a little less than four hours, the tower that you see behind me is going to come tumbling down. It'll be history and the preservationists will no longer have the argument that it was interfering with history -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And Bob, we hear the timing of this is significant as well.
FRANKEN: Well, if the timing is that it occurs on the same day as Pickett's Charge. But it is not occurring at the same hour, which was 3:00 in the afternoon, it's going to be a couple of hours after that. One of the reasons they give is that they don't want to interfere with the commemorations of Pickett's Charge that occur every year at 3:00. People walk across the field where the Rebel soldiers were gunned down. They are going to wait until that's concluded before they have the ceremonies with the tower.
ALLEN: All right, Bob Franken at Gettysburg. Thanks. Bob.
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