Friday, August 24, 2007
It is easy to forget...
...as you drive the auto tour, spend time with your guide, ride the bus, or however you tour the Gettysburg battlefield, of just what exactly happened here. I'll admit it! I'm victim of the same. It's a beautiful patch of ground in rural south-central Pennsylvania. It's full of farmlands, livestock, and apple orchards. You can see the 5-rail fences, the bank barns and the stome walls typical of 19th Century America. You can watch a sunset from Oak Hill, Little Round Top, or Cemetary ridge that tops any beach sunset that ever occurred. It's a truly wonderful place.
But, in doing all the above-mentioned, plus whatever else you do while in Gettysburg, take time to remember what Gettysburg actually is. A great place to visit? Yep! An awesome place to tour and explore? Of course! A place to spend money? Exactly!
But...what draws us here in the first place?...The battlefield. Three days of living hell for those involved, and several months more for those in the vicinity who were affected by it all. Supreme sacrifice. Deeds of heroism beyond belief. The struggle to preserve a way of life. And...after all was said and done...Hell on Earth. Thousands of wounded and dying crying for mercy. Tens of thousands of amputated limbs. Thousands of dead animals, and the residue of three days of the most awesome bloodletting known to mankind.
Gettysburg personfied the state of the world at the time, and all off the associated morals and values. Two armies with different ideas of government collided almost by accident, and undertook some of the fiercest fighting in history. The struggle in many ways determined the fate of this great experiment in democracy. Would the Federal government survive to fight another day? Would it eventually win the war? Yes on both counts.
Yet, Gettysburg has also come to personify all that is bad with society. Greed. Corruption. Total diregard for past events. Lack of morals. Lack of virtues. Lack of values. Do what you can to make a buck!? I see it on Steinwehr Avenue every day of every week. This is wrong!
Tourists are not creatures ripe for the picking. Remember the fight, remember the struggle, and remember the battlefield for what it is. A field of honor. Not a money tree. Stop raping the tourists. Stop trivializing the struggle, and stop making a mockery of the sacrifices made by the many for the cause of freedom! They truly deserve more, and we owe it to them to see that they get more. Without them, where would we be?