a few days ago I wrote about the humbling beauty of a funeral at Arlington national cemetery. yesterday I found myself at the Gettysburg national cemetery. it is the place that I go to that seems to focus the reality of the words, “all men are created equal” beyond the words and ideas on a paper, but the horrific insanity that was a turning point in the deadliest war the united states participated in…the one it fought among itself, on its own soil.
the other thing is I try to avoid going to the national parks and place of interests when it is off-season, as there seems to be more depth in learning and meaning in a place not overcrowded with the herd of humanity that can fill the parks in summer. when I drive through the battlefield and replay the history of the three days of bloodletting, I wonder why we think wars are great and noble things? it appears more like rationalized insanity with the reality of the carnage.
I still feel that there would be less conflict if the leaders of each country put their families into harm’s way, instead of the less privileged or wealthy. I was surprised to learn that during the draft you could buy your way, or pay for someone to take your space during the civil war. both the north and the south were creative in getting people to go fight in the war.
since I had been to the cemetery several times, of which I still think the best thing you can do is hire the park service guide to drive you around versus the audio tours. today we did that later and it didn’t seem to sync very well to the land, yet, that was ok – I had already studied the reality of the battle history and walked out on the various places where war looked more like insanity with the loss of human life.
perhaps with the current trend to tear down the past history and statues with the country bothers me. the past is what happened. we can’t change it, but we can hopefully learn from it. if you erase all the statues and names – what will we learn as the data stream of life moves ever faster, and the past can run the risk of being lost. if you go to the south, there aren’t really any battlefields that are there to tell the tale of what a white society woman in Charleston described as “that unfortunate incident.”
the funny part was the black bus driver that took us to an old plantation must have known about the woman’s phrasing. when we got on his bus he politely said, “I don’t what you were told inside about incidents, but I am going to take you to a plantation where slaves worked.”
it is funny to me that I really never cared much about politics or ideologies all my life, yet, the words of “all men are created equal” was something that stuck in my mind beyond all the ways humans could discriminate or treat their other fellow human. you look at today, and the racial issues still exist and are cancer upon the nation.
in time, my simple prayer is that we get beyond all the various strife of race, creed, color, religion, and ideology and we all realize we are all human, and we help each other get better and all those men that died in the deadliest war in American history – will not have died in vain.
that's my thoughts as I think about another visit to Gettysburg and stare out over the field where picket made his ill-fated charge.
in hindsight, it seems like insanity to attempt something like that…yet…it was the reality.