Wednesday, June 29, 2005

To Gettysburg

I'm going on vacation - all by myself. This will be a relatively new experience for me - going away on vacation alone. I've really only done it once in the last six years - and that was also to Gettysburg - although Mark did come to spend one day with me.

This time I will be in one of my "Meccas" all alone (my other "Mecca" is Glastonbury)- to do what I want, when I want. Not that I don't miss the company of friends or family (my favorite trip was to Disney World, Sea World and Discovery Cove with Heather) but when I go on one of my "Mitzi journeys" - it's really about the journey. It's about learning something about the place, the history and more importantly, Mitzi.

I am drawn to Gettysburg - have been for as long as I can remember. I've spent some time reading (more) and mapping out possible walking trips. I've reread a couple of the Mark Nesbit books on the Ghosts of Gettysburg. I dug out several books on tape about the Battle and it's aftermath to listen to on the trip down. I have my books and maps ready to go. I will be there on the 142 anniversary of possibly the largest battle every fought in North America - or maybe even this hemisphere.

A history of Adams County alludes to a previous battle on the same ground. Many years before white settlers founded the town that was to become a thriving crossroads of Nineteenth Century Pennsylvanian commerce, there was a large Indian battle.

Is it the land? Is it the lay of the land? General Buford recognized the lay of the land on that first day - July 1, 1863 - when he and his Union calvary galloped through town and to the western fields north of the Lutheran Seminary. There were several areas of "high ground" and from the first day the Union generals knew that any engagement would be won by the forces on the high ground.

So maybe it's the land that beckons the soldier and the seeker. The energy of centuries of combat and compassion. For the story of the Battle cannot be told - should not be told - without mentioning the sacrifice of the townspeople. Although only one citizen of Gettysburg died during the Battle - young Jennie Wade as she baked bread for the Union soldiers - all in the community of 2500 were forever affected by the aftermath.

The Armies of the North and the South both marched away after the Battle, leaving behind 50,000 or more casualties, including their dead. They left behind more than 6000 dead horses and mules. They left behind verdant fields decimated by cannon fire and death. They left behind a town and a people forever changed - the change felt to this very day. The townspeople of Gettysburg rallied to care for the men of the both armies - they housed and nursed the injured and comforted the dying. For the citizens of Gettysburg it didn't matter if someone wore a blue or gray uniform.

I believe that land soaks up the energy of people and events. Not only the energy of war and destruction seeped into the fields surrounding Gettysburg - but the energy of healing and forgiveness - love and caring. That was what the townspeople gave to the land - that's what continues to live on.

Maybe that's why Gettysburg is one of my Meccas. Not because of the Battle - but because of what happened after the Battle.


Post a Comment

<< Home