Thursday, July 27, 2006


I just realized that I never wrote about our trip to Gettysburg. It was awe-inspiring to say the least. If you have never gone there I cannot recommend it highly enough. Before we went our 7-year-old son declared that he thought it would just be a huge field and a bunch of monuments. Well...there are huge fields and there certainly are a LOT of monuments, but he changed his tune after we went.

The first thing we did was to go to the Electric Map in the Visitors' Center. This is an electronic light and sound experience which lasts about 1/2 hour. It explains the battle completely from start to finish, including dimming the lights for the night-time and having little reddish-orange lights on the map for the campfires of each army. There is also a nice little museum area that we all enjoyed. We then went to the memorial in the cemetary which commemorates Lincoln's Gettysburg address. Our son wanted to take all the pennies that people had left there...We didn't let him.

Once we had a good handle on how the battle progressed we went on the auto-tour, a self-guided drive around the entire battle area. We stopped at many monuments, took pictures, went up two observation towers, and got out at Little Round Top. I also did a panoramic picture of the fields which the Confederate troops had to cross in "Pickett's Charge," coming into direct fire from Federal troops.

Having recently read "The Killer Angels," about the battle, I had a keen interest in going there and seeing the lay of the land for myself. It was an amazing day. We all learned so much from the different displays--whoever has done the work of setting it all up has really excelled.

Enjoy seems a weird word to use to describe how we felt that day. It was an enjoyable day, learning together as a family, but I think we had more of a sense of awe, of respect for the dead, of amazement at the sheer numbers of men who died on those fields. It was arguably the most important battle in the history of our country, and as such deserves to be studied and remembered. Each side wholeheartedly believed that they were fighting for what was right. Men were willing to die to stand up for their beliefs. Even brother fought brother (the Culp brothers are one example--they have their own display case in the museum there) and friend fought friend. The bloodshed was almost incomprehensible, the numbers are staggering. It's easy now, in hindsight, to see what the various generals did wrong, what they could have done instead, and how things might have gone differently at Gettysburg. But it seems that these men did the best they knew how.

How willing are we to die for our beliefs? And how much more important are our beliefs about the Lord than beliefs about government/states' rights/economy/etc.? In the spiritual battles of life do we stand our ground? Do we press on in the face of seemingly unconquerable odds, obeying our Master's commands? Just thinking about it all....

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