Monday, August 20, 2007

Take a walk on the battlefield after dark...


You'll get out of town, away from the hype, and away from the ghost tours. It sounds like a good idea, right? Not always.

I've been spending a lot of time on the field after dark. It's easier to do, now that it is getting dark sooner. I've taken some awesome pictures, and I've just enjoyed the peacefulness.

You can do that on the weekdays, when there aren't so many people in town. The weekends, however, are a completely different story! The 'ghost hunters' are out in full force. They're everywhere! They go to Spangler's Spring to see the woman in white. They go to the Triangular Field and hope their camera malfunctions, just so they have a story to tell. They go to the top of the Devil's Den,and some even trace the outline of the name "P. Noel" in the rock, hoping that, according to the legends, the ghost will show up (She's supposedly a woman who was be-headed, and she tries to eat your question...if she has no head of her own, how can she eat yours?).

I went out to the Devil's Den area on Fri. night at around 9pm. I took my camera along (always do!) not to photograph ghosts or orbs, but just to take different photos. Some of the monuments look awesome in the dark! What do you think I saw and heard?

People in the woods by the Valley of Death 'ghost hunting!' "Hey, I think I see something! Bring the camera!"..."is that a ghost?" Flashes were going off everywhere. Four different people walked by me and asked, "Have you seen any ghosts yet?" Another family asked me where I was from. When I told them, I got, "Oh, so you live here? I guess you see ghosts all the time. Where's the best place to go to see a ghost? When's the best time?" They always act quite disappointed when I tell them I've never seen one before. "You must not go out much after dark. If I lived here, I'd go out every night. I'd see lots of ghosts!" Then, they walked on.

I don't know about you, but I see something wrong with this. Once again, going back to the ghost tours, bike week, the casino, and now the ghost hunters, ..."What has Gettysburg become?" ... "Why do people come here?" ...It should be because of the battle, the men themselves who fought and died, and so forth...the impact on the town, the farmers, and the good citizens...the overall impact the battle had on the outcome of the war, etc.

Some artists, art classes and art majors come to study the achitecture of the monuments, a story all its own. This is good. Some come just because the town, with the fences, stone walls, and bank barns, is a small slice of 19th century America. No problem there, either.

The problem is when you trivialize the sacrifices made here. If you believe in ghosts, and believe the battlefield is haunted, that's your choice. Just remember that the ghost you are hoping to see is most likely a soldier of the battle who died an agonizing death at a young age for a cause he committed to. He wants merely to rest in peace, to end his troubled existence of walking the field, and to find the promised land. Not to be photographed, talked about, and made fun of. How many ghost hunters have ever thought about that?
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