Monday, July 6, 2009

Fourth of July...

So I'm in PA enjoying the Northeast. It's a gorgeous part of the country and there are lots of benefits to being here. My personal favorite is the history of this area and all the fantastic sites to visit.

So I took advantage of that on Saturday, the fourth of July, and drove to Gettysburg to celebrate my nation. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

There was a reenactment going on, which was a negative thing in my eyes. There were lots of tents up full of women in giant petticoat dresses and men with full beards and suspenders, almost all of which were actually mini shops selling memorabilia. The site was full of life, both visitors and reenactors, and that took out the majesty for me. Because I was being assaulted with versions of what the battlefield would have actually looked like, I wasn't able to get the impact of using my imagination and internalizing it all.

Still, it was nice to have been there and learned what little I learned, even if I would have rather seen it under different circumstances.

The battle of Gettysburg was a fierce and terrible fight. The field which is now beautifully green and flowing would have been enveloped in crimson blood and gore. Neighbors, old family friends, and family members in different uniforms would have been bayoneting each other. It would have been gruesome.

Something struck me about it later when I was sitting outside with my host family here in Pennsylvania. We started hearing fireworks off in the distance, and I was somewhat put off. Two hundred years ago if we would have been sitting in the same spot, we would have heard the same sounds but we would have been filled with fear instead of national pride. How did we make that transition? Do you think people even think about that connection anymore? Do they realize that when we're setting off fireworks we're really commemorating a terrible battle? It just seemed kind of strange to me.

Just a couple of thoughts. That's it for now!

2 comments:

PeterAtLarge said...

We'll be in PA early fall, and plan a stop a Gettysburg. The irony you point to is a poignant one, Mark.

secret agent woman said...

Thats' true with many holidays. But you cancelebrate whatver you want - another way to think about it is that it's not a celebration of the brutal birth of this country but of our attempt to hang together over the years and an expression of hope that we will continue to grow and become a more responsible and kind nation.