Whenever Frank Orlando and his wife, dressed as Gen. and Mrs. Robert E. Lee, traverse the Gettysburg Battlefield, they cannot help but immediately gravitate toward Confederate Avenue and Seminary Ridge, not only for the inherent beauty of its landscape, but also for the historical importance located within the woods that surround the Virginia Memorial. It is in close proximity to this memorial that, on July 3, 1863, the 12,000 men in Gen. James Longstreet’s 1st Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia took refuge prior to beginning what has become known as Pickett’s Charge. Confederate Avenue possesses many of the most majestic monuments on the battlefield – monuments dedicated to the Southern troops who fought here by the various states that aligned themselves to the Confederate States of America. While Robert E. Lee’s sitting astride Traveller atop the VA Memorial overlooks the expanse of ground known as Picket’s Charge – the monument that ultimately embodies the poignant story made by the flower of Virginia’s youth that led the charge – all of the other Confederate monuments detail the sacrifices made by the Confederate soldier in defense of the cause they passionately supported. Paramount among those other monuments are the Mississippi Monument on Seminary Ridge which recalls the desperate courage and gallantry of Gen. Lee’s men and the North Carolina Monument depicting one of Lee’s favorite Tarheel regiments as it is about to charge once more toward Cemetery Ridge and immortality.
Having been a high school principal and assistant to the superintendent of schools in various Berks and Bucks County schools in PA for twenty-six years, Frank Orlando continues to educate the people to whom he speaks in his role as Gen. Robert E. Lee. Frank and his wife Bonnie, who portrays Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee, have appeared in numerous documentaries while, at the same time, portraying the Lees along the East coast and in the mid-West for Civil War roundtables, leadership groups, veterans reunions, high school and college students and professionals, and innumerable groups of visitors to the Gettysburg area. The Orlandos are quite passionate about portraying these two great Americans as friends, husband and wife, father and mother, the Lady of Arlington, military leader, and educator, as well as the man whom Douglass MacArthur, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and General Winfield Scott have called the greatest soldier the United States has ever educated and developed – Robert E. Lee.