I'm including this here because you gave me tips with regard to visiting Gettysburg.
DAY 2 ~ Gettysburg
I knew it was going to rain today. Before my trip, I’d been watching weather.com daily, so wasn’t expecting the 100% chance of measurable rain in DC, nor the 80% chance of rain in Gettysburg, but I went anyway. I still had a 15% chance of NOT being rained on. Amazingly, I did not get lost.
It rained pretty heavily on my way out of Alexandria and Arlington, but eventually, I was able to shut down the windshield wipers and enjoy the surrounding countryside. I arrived at the Visitors Center in a little over two hours which, considering the road conditions, I was pretty pleased with. I was able to book my bus tour for 11:00 a.m. I also bought a ticket for the Cyclorama show which, if you’re not going to tour the battlegrounds, I highly recommend as an alternative. At the very least, it will give you a mental image that will be hard to shake regarding fighting in the Civil War.
If you can’t afford your own personal tour guide, I highly recommend the bus tour. It’s $35, but worth every penny. Even on a rainy day, it was worth it to get the history lesson from the guides that you can’t always find in books. Our guide assured us that there were mountains surrounding the battlegrounds, but the mist and rain hid them from view. I, however, thought that the precipitation added to the sacred atmosphere of this living history lesson.
I highly recommend reading up on the Battle of Gettysburg if you’re planning a visit, otherwise you will be totally confused. I read the book “Angel Killers” by Michael Shaara. It’s the second book of a Civil War trilogy written in novel format but it will give you an idea of who is on what side and some feelings and perspectives the soldiers may have had. It was a quick read, and one I couldn’t put down. I also read and re-read the Gettysburg Address. I was surprised to learn that it is only 10 sentences long, and it took approximately 2 minutes for President Lincoln to deliver. So, I decided to memorize it so that I could recite it somewhere on a battlefield and video it for remembrance. And also to prove that I don’t have Alzheimers. It took me about a month to memorize, but I love every word, the placement of each word, of President Lincoln’s poignant prose.
Each monument in the park has a meaning, as does their placement. For instance, General Robert E Lee and General Gordon Meade are placed across the fields from each other but positioned such that they can “see” each other throughout eternity, or the life of this National Park.
It’s hard to remember all of the monuments and their stories as there are so many, but one of my favorites is the Monument to John L. Burns, who as a citizen of Gettysburg was pretty tired of all these soldiers in his town so he grabbed up his musket and went out to fight in the war on the Union side. He’d fought in the war of 1812 so he really was pretty old for battle. He borrowed a more modern rifle from a wounded Union soldier and I’m not sure what he did with his flintlock musket. When President Lincoln came to the cemetery to deliver his Gettysburg Address, he asked to meet the “Oldest Patriot” of the War. The two men did meet. I like this story, and Mr. Burns has his own monument.
The tour bus does stop 2-3 times so you can get out and our guide allowed a couple of stops for photos, maybe because of the rain drops on the bus windows. The stops, however, are not long so I made a mental note of the places I wanted to re-visit. After the tour, I saw the Cyclorama exhibit which is unbelievably SOMETHING ~ I can’t think of the appropriate word. I shopped in the most excellent museum Book Store. I guarantee you will not leave the store empty handed.
Before heading into town I went back to Little Round Top so I could recite the Gettysburg Address. By now, it was overrun by Jr Hi-ers, so I had to work fast to get it done before their interference. I had a couple of flub ups, and when I got to the part about the men giving their “last full measure of devotion”, it had a whole new meaning for me, so yeah, I teared up, but I was still able to finish and another item off my bucket list was checked off.
I had an hour or so to visit Lincoln Square in Gettysburg. I had a conversation with a gallery manager about the upcoming 150 Year Anniversary celebration they are planning for this July. (The battle was July 1-3, 1863.) She mentioned that FEMA has already met with them to discuss plans for preventing another Boston Marathon terrorist-type attack and I felt very sad to think that this is what our country has come to, that we need to take precautions from attacks like this and hopefully prevent them from happening in the first place. By this time, I was pretty hungry so I ate crab cakes across the street at the Blue & Gray Bar & Grill.
Photos from Day Two ~ hope the link works!