Wednesday, September 07, 2011


All the boys at the top of Devil's Den

Looking up at Little Round Top from Devil's Den

Girls hanging out during one of our stops

The place where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address

The boys walking through the National Soldier's Cemetery

The muffled drums sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo,
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.

On fame's eternal camping-ground,
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now sweeps upon the wind,
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind.

No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms.
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

The neighing troop, the flashing blad,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout are past.

Your own proud land's heroic soil
Must be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil,
The ashes of the brave.

Rest on enbalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gave.
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave.

We read this poem as we walked through the National Soldier's Cemetery at Gettysburg. It's a sober reminder of the sacrifice our armed forces make to defend our country - and was a fitting conclusion to our tour of Gettysburg National Military Park.

It was hard to imagine the horror of the battle, as I stood on the peaceful ridges, looking over the empty fields where thousands of men lost their lives in a desperate Civil War battle. Save for the hundreds (1300 to be exact) monuments marking the positions of every regiment in battle during those fateful days, it could have been any peaceful Pennsylvania countryside.

My boys, including Glen, were transfixed by the markers and monuments - jumping out at every stop to explore and imagine. (One thing I learned - North Carolina lost the most men of any state, North or South, in the battle at Gettysburg. The numbers are astounding.)

The girls - not so much. "Do we have to get out?"

"No," I said, remembering my first visit to Gettysburg. A book was more appealing than the monuments.

But we all emptied the van to walk around the cemetery, remembering the men whose blood made these fields sacred. We counted the hundreds of graves marked with numbers - men who fell, but could not be identified.

To those who have served in our armed forces, and to those who have given their loved ones to serve, thank you.

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