Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Memorial Day in Gettysburg

I recently learned the holiday we call Memorial Day originated from the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who fought and died. Knowing this, what better place to spend Memorial Day than visiting one of my favorite places, Gettysburg, PA.

We started the morning off at the Gettysburg National Park Visitors Center with Morgan Freeman narrating a fabulous film about the beginning conflicts that led to the Civil War and how it eventually made its way to a little town called Gettysburg. It is one of my favorite films to see. But with as good as the film is, the Cyclorama is truly spectacular. A french artist came Gettysburg after the war and captured the what took place there in a truly inspiring way. You walk into this room where you feel like you have just walked into the middle of Pickett's Charge. If you have never seen this I highly reccommend it make the top 100 things to see.

After walking through the visitors center we made our way over to Baltimore Street to watch the annual Memorial Day Parade. It's inspiring to see a soldier from every war America has fought in walking down the street together. I am filled with patriotic pride when I am see this.

We made our way over to the Gettysburg National Cemetery after the parade to hear Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address. The words spoken 149 years ago are still true today.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We spent the rest of the day following the audio tour around the battlefield. Standing along Picketts Charge I was truly overcome with the legacy the men who fought on this battlefield left behind. Men on both sides fought for something they believed in. They proudly gave their all. During the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, the veterans gathered on the fields and recreated the march of Picketts Charge. They were old and it was hard to walk for many of the men. But, as they made their way along the fields, those hunched over shoulders began to walk a little taller and with their heads a little taller until they met in the middle where they were overcome with emotions that they fell into each others arms with tears in their eyes. Soldiers from both sides came together showing true emotion, forgiveness, and patriotism when they met on those fields. I can feel their spirit still alive when I visit Gettysburg and I coudln't imagine a more appropriate place to be than right where true American heros were born.

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