I wonder if Abe’s speech would be as well remembered if it started “87 years ago…”. Anyway, we are right here at Gettysburg where the historic 3 day battle took place and Abe delivered that famous address. As usual, I came in knowing a few basic facts I memorized in school but left with a much better understanding of this part of history and a ton of questions.
We paid to see the movie, the cyclorama and the museum. It was kind of pricey for what you get I think but partly that was because we didn’t have as much time in the museum as we (well, not Brielle) would have liked. It was very well put together. Not quite as good as the WWII museum in New Orleans, but close. If you are on a budget I think I might just do the museum and skip the movie and cyclorama. The museum has tons of short videos that, as Brielle pointed out, are the same stuff that was in the movie. Just you get to hear Morgan Freeman say it in the movie.
While it was pricey for a tourist attraction I think it was worth it as an educational opportunity. All the presentations did a really nice job of explaining what led up to the battle, and why Gettysburg was strategically important enough to become the location of this battle. What really boggles my mind about the early wars were communication and intelligence. Without radios or phones, these guys were able to move huge groups of men around the country to where they were needed and when they were needed. I have a hard enough time getting 5 people moved around the country with Google by my side, I can’t imagine how they did it!
I had found out just a day or two before that Dwight D. Eisenhower’s home is in Gettysburg. Dacen is a fan of Ike’s since he created NASA (or at least he signed the act that created NASA). While it is a national historic site you have to pay a private company to drive you out there on a bus. We were suckers and went for it. The ranger that received us at the home was a hoot. He got everyone involved and his catch phrase was “so you see folks, the thing is….”. This now gets spoken by our family at opportune moments and it usually gets a big laugh. While out at Ike’s place they have the Jr Secret Service program instead of the Jr Ranger program. It was a pretty fun program which included interrogating one of the rangers. The Eisenhower house was really nice. It reminded me a lot of Steph’s Grandma Gerry and Grandpa Merl’s house. The smell, the style…something. Ike was quite the rancher and they still have cattle on the ranch today which we got a chance to say hi to.
It was a full day, a fun day and a productive day. The kids earned both a Jr Secret Service badges and a Jr Ranger badge. While Steph made dinner I took the kids back to the teeter totters to play. After dinner, Brielle talked us into having a disco party in their bunkhouse room. The kids got some of the built in tunes on the keyboard to play while we all danced our best moves. I was really tired, but its fun to be goofy like that every once in awhile. Thanks for the reminder Brielle!
The next day was soggy. We wanted to do the driving tour around Gettysburg to check out all the actual places we had learned about yesterday. As the morning wore on the rain let up and it turned out to be a pretty nice day. As we stood at some of the key places on the battlefield like Semenary Ridge, Cemetary Hill and Little Round Top I tried to imagine commanding a bunch of troops spread all up and down the landscape without radio communication. While we were on Little Round Top there was a volunteer dressed in Civil War uniform who shared some info about the cannons and guns used on the battlefield. He had some show and tell items he passed around and then also gave the kids some cast lead bullets. They were in plastic bags and he made us promise not to touch the actual lead. So of course, the kids wanted to touch them…and we let them!! We’re such rebels! They were pretty excited to get such a unique souvenir….for free!
The highlight of the day for me was being on Little Round Top and imagining the Confederate troops making their move, now called Picket’s charge, on the strategic hill. But I also really liked being down at The Angle and the “high water mark” contemplating how things might be different if the Union soldiers had been unable to stop the Confederates at that point.
We wrapped up the day back at home and yet one more trip to the teeter totters before dinner and bed. Oh, we also found this funky pod on the ground and broke it open to find a spongy/fluffy thing inside. Kind of weird….check out the photos.
So you see folks, the thing is, I’m glad we stopped for a couple days at Gettysburg. And Caledonia State park was nice place to stay although a little far away (about 30 minutes to Gettysburg). The nights got down into the low 40s at night but we stayed warm inside.
Looking for clues
Ike's back yard
Calling the cows
From Seminary Ridge
Cemetery ridge in background
View from the top
Lecture on cannons
Little Round Top pano
Loading the cannon
Little Round Top
High Water Mark
Kids' favorite wrapper