I’ve been to Gettysburg a handful of times as a kid, and read countless accounts of the battle through the years, but yesterday was the first time that I took the family. It was a gorgeous day, with weather more suited to June than March. We went to the National Visitor Center and Museum and then toured the battlefield. It’s days like this that illustrate the difference in our children.
20Prospect Junior just read The Killer Angels, probably the best historical fiction book ever written, and so he knew the characters and the backstory behind the battle as well as I do. He had only a passing interest in the museum, and the films, and just wanted more like than anything to stand on the battlefield and touch history. Like every 11 year old boy he dreamed of kicking the dirt and finding a bullet. He wanted to place his hand on every cannon and every stone wall, and try to feel the stories.
Lil’ Miss 20Prospect by contrast knew nothing about the battle, but was content to watch the film, and look at the displays, and ask countless questions about everything. Impressions matter much more than details or artifacts and the one thing she wanted more than anything was to walk the cemetery and read the names. Standing at sunset among the stones of untold numbers of lost soldiers stirred her imagination more than anything else could. Turning to me she said "Dad, don’t take any pictures here. It just wouldn’t be right." I couldn’t have agreed more.
The sun was a blood red ball burning thru the haze as we walked out through the gates. Watching it sink behind the blue ridge I felt proud to know they’re both my children.