I've had Rhett Butler's voice in my head all day, saying that. "Some little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg."
I have to say, it's a dream come true for me to be here. Some kids grow up wanting to go to Disney World. I grew up wanting to go to Gettysburg. :)
I'm not totally sure why I have always had such a fascination with the Civil War. I think it's a mixture of things. The human interest stories have always captivated me. The women who turned into nurses. The men who turned into heroes. The brothers who fought against each other. So many incredible stories of tragedy and triumph. And yes...someday, I hope to write a novel against the backdrop of the war. I've already done hour upon hour of research--just for fun.
My Gettysburg experience started out early this morning. I was so excited just walking into the huge visitor center--and even more so when I saw author Jeff Shaara signing copies of his books. I had him sign a book for me and told him about my ranger years at Shiloh. Come to find out, he's setting an upcoming novel there. Very cool.
After the movie and cyclorama (which were both totally worth the money), I spent a lot of time in the museum. Fantastic--but probably overkill for those who aren't really interested in the Civil War. I could've spent at least another hour in there, at least. After attending a ranger program in the National Cemetery, I set out on the 24 mile driving tour...
And I can't help but compare the experience to Shiloh. The battlefields themselves have a few similarities. But the outside stuff--way different. There is a lot more commercialization at Gettysburg. So many shops and hotels and things. In my opinion, all that outside stuff detracts a bit from the battlefield. Even the visitor center made me feel that way--it was so showy, so obviously high-tech and expensive...
But the battlefield itself was amazing. I would love to come back sometime and actually walk more on the actual field.The driving tour is nice and you get to see the high points, but just as with Shiloh--to really experience it, you need to be out on it, walking the same land that the soldiers did.
I left the field at dark, cold and exhausted. But happy. I'd seen a place that I've wanted to see for as long as I can remember. And tomorrow...on the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address...I'll be in the National Cemetery for a special program to remember.
And tomorrow night...I'm staying on a dairy farm in Lancaster County. Am a little afraid it will be like Schrute Farms...complete with Dwight and Mose!