Week of August 24, 2003
There are places in this world that inspire awe through their incredible beauty and then there are places in which you feel awe leaching from the soil, from the trees and from the very air around you. Gettysburg is a place that you feel from the inside out. It is difficult to ignore the tightening of your chest as you look out over the battlefields. It is difficult to not try and swallow that large lump that sticks in your throat, and it is difficult to not blink clear your eyes. If you have not visited the place where the Civil War turned and where this country's direction and fate were decided, then I strongly recommend a visit as soon as possible.
Here are just a few of the head-shakingly fascinating facts surrounding the battle at Gettysburg and the Civil War itself:
* 620,000 Americans casualties in the Civil War (more than WWI and WWII combined)
There was one story that will particularly affect animal lovers. Sally Ann was a mascot for an Infantry Unit from Pennsylvania. A large portion of this Unit was wiped out on the first day of fighting near Seminary Ridge and Sally Ann being the loyal dog that she was, stayed with the soldiers throughout the remaining two days of the battle (without food or water). She was found huddled close to her fallen "family" and has been immortalized with her own statue at the base of the Pennsylvania memorial.
We had dinner at the Dobbin House, which was used as a slave safehouse. The Rev. Dobbin built the home in 1776 and had an attic that was separated from the floor below by a three foot crawl space, allowing the slaves a place to sit or lie down while remaining undetected between the floors. Even though the home is now a restaurant, much of the original construction is intact.
The next day, August 25, 2003, we celebrated our one year Anniversary. We traveled from Gettysburg to Amish country near Lancaster, and then on to New Jersey for our next day adventure to Philadelphia and Atlantic City. The day was just as we would have liked - warm and sunny, with a lazy morning and easy travel.
The Amish lifestyle is to be envied for its simplicity and its success. 90% of Amish farms succeed for generations and all without massive inventories of mechanical and electronic "stuff". To understand the Amish way of life is to just appreciate the way they nurture the land. In these pictures, you won't see large farm machinery nor extensive watering systems. If you look closely in the 3rd picture (far right side), you will see the front of a mule that a man was guiding with a "plowlike" device with a woman raking behind. When you look at their land, you see the reward of their hard work.