Thursday, April 15, 2010

Caught up...for now.

We arrived into Gettysburg Sunday afternoon and explored the town a bit. Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed, but we were still able to walk the town and see a few places. While window shopping J noted that civilwar era women wore too much clothing and ladies of today don’t wear enough. I guess somewhere there is a happy balance to be found. It was really cool to walk the streets and see signs saying “civil war building”. To know that building stood during the most tumultuous time of US history, is just amazing. We moved on to enjoy the national cemetery. We spent a few hours walking through the cemetery looking at the monuments, more than once did I feel that I could sit down and weep. Little did I know, that feeling would not leave me for awhile. I love the quote my friend sent me “standing in the presence of the past”. That perfectly describes the feeling I had for the day and a half we spent in Gettysburg. Monday we woke up and had plans to return to some of the stores that were closed and perhaps some other areas as well as return to the battlefield. First though, we headed to the battlefield. We first went to see the video narrated by Morgan Freeman regarding the civil war and causes. I appreciated that the focus was not just on condemning the south for slavery, but noted that the North didn’t want slavery ended either. Also, it noted that the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the CSA. Slavery remained legal in Union states, a fact I hadn’t learned until recently. From there we saw the Cyclorama a 42 x 300 foot oil painting depicting the 3rd day of Battle. An amazing piece of artwork. We went to the gift shop and purchased our audio tour, completely forgetting to peruse the Museum, I guess we’ll get that on the next trip.

The Audio tour said it should take 2-2 ½ hours, yet we managed to turn it into a 5 hour tour. We drove the entire park stopping to get our bearings on the battlefield. My civil war history classes from school did not do justice to the immensity of this battle, neither the size of the battlefield or the size of the armies engaged in the fight. I think all American’s should be required to visit this battlefield. It was amazing how your perspective changes as you move around the field. Seeing things from new angles, seeing the battle from the opposing sides, just in terms of the battle, not political or social motivations from fighting. I think most powerful for me, was seeing actual civil war photos of dead soldiers, then standing on the same ground and seeing a virtually unchanged landscape. Mike and I talked about it after, and the number of things that, if not for a few minutes, could have turned a completely different way and very easily could have been won by the confederacy. It made me think that God truly had a purpose for this country and desired that it remain one country, even as it needed to work through some very difficult issues. What would these men think of our country today? Would they be willing to pay the same price if they could see us now?

While we deeply desire to return to Gettysburg soon, we needed the next day off to enjoy some light fun, so off to Hershey, PA. And what can help raise spirits better than chocolate? Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t very excited about this portion of our trip. I mean, I like chocolate, but I wasn’t interested in the amusement park, and really didn’t care about Mr. Hershey and his story. In my world, this attitude usually means I’m in for a surprise. And was I ever, we had a very good time. We enjoyed the free Chocolate world “factory” tour, twice. Enjoyed the free samples and even enjoyed the mandatory gift shop at the end of the ride. We started learning a bit about Mr. Hershey and I must say, my curiosity was increasing regarding this man. We headed to the Hershey story museum to satisfy this curiosity and to hopefully learn a bit more about the actual chocolate making process. It never ceases to amaze me, how at some point in our history, someone thinks, hmmmmm I think that pod with the immensely nasty tasting seeds inside would probably be much better if I fermented them, dried them, roasted them, crushed them, and mixed them with some sugar and maybe even milk. I mean really! But, I’m glad they did. And Mr. Hershey turned out to be and immensely interesting man in his own right. I’m glad we took the time to visit his town.

Then, the kids got their big surprise of the day, we arrived at our hotel for the next two nights. We booked a caboose. Yes, 2 nights in an actual, refurbished, train caboose. The kids loved it. They were thrilled by the accommodations, even if it meant no swimming pool. We had decided to make a stop in Strasburg, because Mike has wanted us to go to Sight and Sound Theatre ever since he went there 2 years ago on a UMT conference. So with that to occupy our afternoon, we spent the morning visiting shops around Lancaster. It turned out to be a very fun relaxed day. Mom got a new purse, Dad got a new belt, we tasted a ton of yummy Amish jams, jellies, and salsa’s and generally went wherever we felt like. (I love it when everyone is willing to stop for me to go into antique shops!).

After a quick stop into a local ice cream parlor for a snack we headed to Sight and Sound to see Joseph. I am lacking in words to describe the theatre or the production. I spent several years around theatre, including a year interning at one of the top theatres in the US. This show was every bit of Broadway quality, with the BIG difference being that its sole purpose was to bring Glory to God. I love theatre, but I’ve come to dislike going to shows because they are just, so full of the world. This was so different; I was lifted up and encouraged. I was thoroughly entertained but we were also directed to God. Tomorrow, we’ll head to Philly, after visiting the birthplace of one of our favorite American legends, Daniel Boone.

I’m really looking forward to visiting with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin and getting to move farther back in history to the founding of our nation. Yeah to family fieldtrips!

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