American Legion Executive Director Peter Gaytan addresses a crowd at a press conference in Harrisburg, Pa.

Legion strongly opposes Gettysburg casino

Once again, The American Legion's national headquarters expressed strong opposition to a proposed gambling casino that would be located next to the battlegrounds of the Civil War's most crucial battle.

Speaking at a Sept. 21 press conference at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., American Legion Executive Director Peter Gaytan told the audience, "Many say the issue of Gettysburg and this casino is a local issue - I say they are wrong. The history of the country is a national issue and The American Legion believes in protecting Gettysburg - protecting the honor and sanctity of the grounds that those men died and fought for."

Gaytan's remarks reinforced an American Legion press release issued Aug. 12, calling a plan to build a casino near the Civil War landmark a "national disgrace." The proposed casino site is right next to land where Union and Confederate cavalry fought a bloody engagement.

The formation of a new anti-casino group, Veterans for Gettysburg, was announced at the press conference, where a group of Gettysburg citizens, some sporting "No Casino" T-shirts, stood on the Capitol's main staircase behind the featured speakers: Gaytan, Jan Scruggs of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and historian Edwin Bearrs, who is also a decorated World War II veteran.

Veterans for Gettysburg also sent a letter to Gregory Fajt, chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, asking the board to reject a developer's application to open a gaming facility a half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park.

"We are not against a casino; rather, we are for Gettysburg," the letter said. "We concur with the judgment of over 275 American historians who also voiced their concern for this project's unavoidable conflict with Gettysburg's place in American history.

"We stand on behalf of the millions of Civil War veterans who endured four harrowing years of combat, but are no longer with us to speak for themselves. As you would honor (veterans') service, we ask you to remember theirs."

Representatives of the Civil War Preservation Trust also attended the press conference. The organization's president, James Lighthizer, applauded the formation of Veterans for Gettysburg.

In a statement, Lighthizer said that Gettysburg "holds a special place in the hearts of all Americans, but it is particularly dear to those who have felt the heat of battle. The call to military service is a tie that stretches across the generations and makes all of our nation's veterans truly one ‘band of brothers.'"



  1. What about the Gettysburg trailer park that is north of the proposed Casino site? Just buy the Eisenhower Hotel, and do with it what you wish. Don't use the force of the government to determine what private property owners do with their private land. I have relatives buried at Gettysburg, and I have no objection. It's on an already existing property, and it is just another use for the property, within the law. Our National Commander is making a mountain out of a molehill.
  2. Where is the Pa State Commander ? Where is the 22nd District Commander ? Where is the Gettysburg Commander? Where is one of the over 1000 Gettysburg Post members? Looks more like a one man crusade by an unelected Legion officer with no resolution or local support to back him up.
  3. for so many reasons, am I proud to belong to the most Patriotic organization in this land, demonstrated once again, by the decision of our leaders to 'Stand Tall' and voice our objections to those infringements that are too frequently put upon us. these actions makes me smile with pride... and still believe that there is hope... Hope that we will continue to protect and defend our heritage. Thank you Peter for a heartfelt message...... for God and Country. Eric Measles, Pacific Palisades, CA
  4. I agree with everything you said about preserving the sanctity of Gettysburg. However, I do take extreme exception to the comment that the “American Legion is the most patriotic organization in this land”. It’s like saying the Army is better than the Navy or that Air Force personnel are more dedicated than Coast Guardsmen. Your comment is a slap in the face of all hard working veterans who belong to the DAV, VFW, FRA, VVA or any other service organization. I am proud my affiliations with these organizations, as well as the American Legion, and I certainly would not ever claim that any one is more Patriotic than another. John D. Ippert, USN(Ret)
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