Do you remember the analogy about floating icebergs. They say that on the average, only ten percent is visible above the water’s surface. We cannot see, or comprehend the vastness of the ninety percent that remains underwater.
The same can be said of Gettysburg National Park. Those who insist on seeing this beautiful American treasure from only inside of their car miss out on history, art, nature, beauty and serenity not to mention the small furry animals and odd ladybug.
To truly see Gettysburg, you have to take a walk. The vast majority of history featured here is not accessible by car. If one is going to take the time and money to come here, you have wasted both if you’re not willing to put your car in park and be willing to leave it behind as you venture out on foot.
And that is exactly what we will be doing this afternoon… going for a nice long walk.
I have made this walk many times before and in all types of weather too.
The most memorable are the walks in inclement weather. The shortest walks are those in high heat and humidity. As for today, I cannot remember ever having better weather. There is a redeeming wind. the likes I have never experienced here before.
Leaving the hotel, we cross Baltimore St. and turn left. Within two minutes we enter the gates to the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Staying to right of the park, I make a heading for “The Friend to Friend Monument.” This statue shows wounded Confederate General Armistead being aided by Union Captain Bingham directly after Pickett’s Charge.
After realizing that he had been seriously wounded, Armistead gave the Masonic sign of distress. This was immediately recognized by Bingham who came to his immediate aid.
This story proves to me that there are more important things in life than tolerating without question, the segregating lines that so often separate us.
As we continue along through the grounds we pass by fresh graves adorned with flowers, wreaths, banners, toys and no doubt, tears. These are from American soldiers who have recently fallen.
All these graves prove that history continues to be made as the epitaphs for these recently fallen proudly prove. Though the loss we feel is constant and unremitting, there is comfort to be found in the knowledge that these soldiers too, have fought for, and won the high ground.
We are silent as we walk among Heroes.
After a time, we have passed through the cemetery and then back again. Our adventure continues across Baltimore St. and up to Cemetery Hill.
Things are a little different on Cemetery Hill than I remember. New statues seem to have been dedicated and there are new markers along the street explaining the events of battle in chronological order.
The changes that strike me as most significant however is the obvious care that is being given to these grounds. The landscaping is exemplary and the cannons have been painted and polished to a high gloss. It pleases me that my favourite shade tree still stands to provide such stately beauty that only old and wizened trees can give.
Our walk ends with a sunset visit to O’Rorkes Pub. We sit outside on the patio with a couple of cold ones and revel in the moment.
Like I said before, those who insist on rushing through Gettysburg without getting out of their car don’t know what they’re missing.