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June 24, 2004

Gettysburg - The Battlefield

Two days ago I had the enormous good fortune of visiting the hallowed ground of the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, PA. My family and I were on our way back home from Boston, MA and my son wished to see this historic military battlefield.

Before the visit, I didn't have much of an interest in the Civil War much less Gettysburg. But the spirits of those Americans who gave their lives on that field have now changed that.

The National Park Service now cares for much, if not all, of the ground where the enormous confrontation happened. You can actually walk on many of the fields and stand exactly where soldiers and generals died. I stood at the spot where the Confederate General Armistead died in the heat of Pickett's Charge. It was truly a religious experience for me.

Can you imagine 51,000 men killed, injured, captured or missing over a three day period? Can you imagine 5,000 deaths alone in the final hour of battle as Pickett's Charge faltered? What do you think it feels like to stand within five feet of the place where President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address? I can try to tell you, but if you want my honest opinion, simply go there and feel what I felt.

I am quickly learning that the historical record is rich with accurate and detailed eyewitness accounts of the battle and the aftermath. The rest of my summer reading will be devoted to learning more about the bloodiest most horrific day of battle on our nation's own soil.

If you are ever within a day's drive of Gettysburg National Military Park, I urge you to take an extra day or two and go to this special place. It is so peaceful now, but on the first three days of July, 1863 it was hell on earth.

Posted by Tim Carter at June 24, 2004 8:50 PM

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