Last weekend, my family and I were traveling home from a wedding in Virginia Beach and we opted to stop in Gettysburg. The timing couldn’t have been worse with driving through the power outages in the D.C. suburbs and the remnants of the derecho that occurred Friday night throughout the mid-Atlantic states.
At any rate – and I am not a history buff – we had a reservation in Harrisburg for post-visit to the Gettysburg National Battlefield. I had been to the site back in 2008 with a few spiritually like-minded men and the visit had me in tears most of the afternoon.
This visit was different. First, it was with my wife and the Princesses who were ALL tired from this being our 3rd day from driving no less than 6 hours. They were champs, though. There was no complaining about “are we there yet?” or anything of the like. And they give plenty of notice as to when they need a rest area.
Anyway, we made it to the park around 3:30pm – about 90 minutes later than we would have liked, but we weren’t seriously planning on having a lot of time there anyway. Our first stop was the Pennsylvania State Memorial. Of course, I had to take a photo of Lincoln and send it to a friend in Georgia to bust his chops a bit. It gave me a great excuse to talk to him by phone – something my heart just needed to do.
Up on the top of the monument, there are some compass-like discs that point out direction lines and distances to various major sites (Washington DC, as well as battlefield areas like Little Big Top, Dragon’s Den, etc). I was moved a bit overlooking the battlefield from that vantage point. But not, again, as I would be later when I returned to Little Big Top.
A quick visit to the visitor’s center gift shop for my wife and the girls and we were on our way. I had to return to Little Big Top, where much time was spent in 2008 pondering, in dismay, just how we as a nation could do what we did to our fellow countrymen.
So, with one Princess asleep in the back of the truck, I left my wife and the girls in the truck while I solemnly headed up the trail to Little Big Top. Shot a few photos and stood, as I had in 2008, in silent tears contemplating the bloodshed, the death, and the greatest event that changed America forever. In that one battle alone, over a mere three days, we lost over seven thousand (7,000!) American soldiers, brothers, fathers, and friends.
So, I returned to that site for two reasons: to reflect on my prior visit with friends, but also to reflect on something much grander – the story I was born into.
(photo provided through Wikimedia Commons, artwork by Currier and Ives)