visit to Gettysburg

As my friend Jenny at Many Hats Mommy so aptly describes, for the past year or so, my blog has been neglected and pouting in a corner. With all the other writing deadlines I have, I tend to put my personal writing aside.

I'm trying to be better about that.

We are down to about our last month in D.C., which, yes was a surprise (thought we'd be here longer). And yes, we are headed back to HAWAII, so I am happy about that! But it's reminded us to hurry up and do some of the local trips we've put off.

So this weekend we decided to take the 2-hour drive to Gettysburg. Steve attended a leadership course there this month, which meant they toured and walked all over the battlefields and learned real-life lessons. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but they took away lessons from the good AND bad decisions.Things like, don't think just because something worked once, it will always work. Be willing to take risks and change it up, when you need to. And how much it meant for the generals to actually be out fighting with their men--never forget where you came from. Great leadership principles.

Basically, we had our own very knowledgeable tour guide, who took us from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3 of the battles. We heard about strategy and which general did what. We stood on hills that were defended and lost, and took in the sobering realization that 15,000 men died in one day. The plaques described the boulders there as having "puddles of blood." Wow.

I memorized the Gettysburg Address in school, but the full impact of what it meant did not hit me until I stood on the battlegrounds of Gettysburg. If you haven't, take some time to research how the Civil War completely reshaped American society--from the roles of women to societal and cultural changes to political, and of course the most obvious one, the end of slavery. And it was only about 150 years ago. Which seems like a long time, but in reality is just a blip. I'll share more photos later, but for now I'll leave you with Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

Arlington

Most of my household is still asleep this New Year's morning--my boys were able to go to NYC for New Year's Eve, and my girls had fun with friends before coming home with us, and they are apparently all worn out from the festivities!

At any rate, I have some quiet here to go back over photos and remember some of the sights we've seen here in D.C. since we got here in September. It's hard to believe that last year at this time, I was sitting in my home by Pearl Harbor. Such an amazing place with so much history. And now, here we are, on the banks of the Potomac. More history. I know our time here will be short, so we are trying to take as much in as we can.

One of the places I've so wanted to visit was Arlington National Cemetery. Last week, with my in-laws in town, we made the trip out there, and braved the cold wind to see the cemetery. (most photos courtesy of my daughter)

Rows upon rows of tombstones...each of them someone's father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter...

They each have a name...

The Tomb of the Unknowns was a quiet, sobering place. What a good spot to ponder the sacrifice of those who gave all.

We got there at the top of the hour and witnessed the impressive changing of the guard: (my fuzzy phone photo)

So proud to be an American. It is impressive what the guards have to go through to qualify to guard the Tomb of the Unknowns. They are everything that is right about America.

Walking back to the car, my husband and me, his mom and her sweet husband. A full, rich day, indeed.