Thursday

It’s not really fair to compare the football game, an experience of a lifetime, with all the other amazing sites and memorials we visited. So I won’t. I’ll just say that after removing the football game from the other events of the week, Gettysburg was Richard’s favorite.

We managed to avoid renting a car the whole week thanks to the Metro and our loyal travel companions Bryan and Brittany who accompanied us to Pennsylvania. I love Gettysburg because of its historical value but also because it is a scenic drive up there and it is a beautiful area. I think Richard could appreciate the battlefield itself a little better than I, because he has read books about the battle and the hereos involved. General Longstreet, a confederate general, was one of Richard’s favorites. This is his memorial.

We bought a cd that narrates the course of the three-day battle. You listen as you drive from landmark to landmark around the 25 square mile park. It took several hours but was worth it for the way it brought the battle to life.
I can not write about Gettysburg without using the words hallowed ground. As Abraham Lincoln said, brave men consecrated that ground when they there “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Before leaving we stopped at the cemetary, where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address. As we walked around I thought about the courage of the men that fought that war. I had these same thoughts later in the week as we walked through Arlington National Cemetary. I marveled at the sacrifice these men and their families gave. War is so ugly. I am sure that it would never be asked of me, but if it were I could not imagine being willing to give my life. But I was so inspired that I wanted to do something. I wanted to believe in something so profoundly that I would be willing to sacrifice for it. The only answer that came to me was that I do have an opportunity to contribute. I have the opportunity to teach my children to have courage to do the right thing, when the right thing is the hard thing. We are blessed to live in a time where the right thing rarely costs our lives, but nonetheless we are all aware how sometimes living up to our morals is hardly convenient or easy.

I am so glad to have shared this experience with Richard. The world is in short supply of modern role-models. But history is full of men and women worthy of esteem. I appreciate that he too appreciates the examples of the people who built this union and the people who fought to save it. And all other great men like Robert E. Lee and General Longstreet who for whatever their motivation, felt in their hearts loyalty to their own cause.
It was past dinner time by the time we got back to Virginia so we headed straight to a Thai restaurant in old town Alexandria. Richard will tell you he’s never seen so many BMW’s in one week, and I would say I’ve never seen so many red brick buildings in one week. Alexandria has many of both. After dinner we made our second trip to the Dairy Godmother, home of delicious frozen custard. We then headed back to Bryan and Brittany’s new townhouse, once again totally exhausted.

(Old town Alexandria, that’s my guy, one bad CPA)

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