by Violet Clark
We visited the Gettysburg battlefield and national cemetery on Memorial week-end, a fitting time to remember the 50,000 soldiers who were lost at this turning-point battle of the Civil War. As we stepped out of the car, the sweet smell of red clover was heavy in the air. I thought it unusual to see clover and Siberian iris planted together- I'm assuming the clover was planted solely for the fragrance? Flowers are always appropriate at a grave site, and the fragrance somehow contributed the right touch at the very beginning of the tour.
We began at the newish (2008) visitor center, which housed artifacts, a theater, and a bookstore. Oh yes, and junk food. Somehow, it felt just a little incongruous that slushies and pretzels were being sold at the site of so much bloodshed. Must Americans make a buck on everything?
Because we have some knowledge of the civil war, we eschewed the multi-media presentation and just looked. The battlefield and cemetery are places best beheld in quietude and reflection. The rows upon rows of white stone markers leave an impact, though I doubt we'll ever grasp the full impact of losing so many young lives.
The soldier on the Soldier's National Monument represents war, the lady embodies peace. I think this old-fashioned way of remembering is superior to the multi-media presentation of the battle. We need room to think, to remember, to meditate---without all of the sound effects.
photo by slakejustice