May 29, 2017

Visiting Gettysburg On Memorial Day

It turned out to be a cloudy, sunless day when my family visited the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. Perhaps, the dreary weather suited the somber tone of the battlefields. There were strikingly more American casualties during the Civil War than in any of the future deadly world wars combined.

The battle of Gettysburg is considered the most important engagement that determined the outcome of the American Civil War. It lasted three days, and resulted in a Union victory under the command of General George G. Meade. After clashing with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, General Robert E. Lee was forced to withdraw his Confederate forces back to Virginia. Lee had felt so discouraged with his mission that he even gave his resignation to the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, but was refused. Ultimately, this battle would be the turning point in the war that gave more promise of victory to the Union!

Over memorial day weekend, it was only fitting that my family went to visit one of America’s Military Parks. Since Gettysburg, PA was close to home, we decided to drive through some of the park and take pictures of the nearby monuments.

The bird poop on this tablet wasn't half as bad as the amount on some of others lol!
Devil's Den and the Valley of Death

It was in Gettysburg that President Lincoln had given his famous Gettysburg Address. At the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, he had been invited to give a few remarks. What was expected to be a few short remarks turned out to be one of the most important speeches in American history. As a president who ultimately desired to preserve the union of his country, Lincoln used the principles of human equality found in the Declaration of Independence and the sacrifices of the Civil War to connect America's desire for "a new birth of freedom."

The beginning of his speech aligns with America's founding principles of freedom and equality:

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that 'all men are created equal.'"

His concluding remarks are perfect to share on Memorial Day because they describe the significance of remembering those who died for our liberty:

"It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation 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."

What we now celebrate as "Memorial Day" actually began as "Decoration Day" when families would decorate the graves of their fallen soldiers and veterans from the Civil War. As America continued to fight in many following wars, Congress eventually passed into law the establishment of Memorial Day as a federal holiday to commemorate soldiers from all wars.

As an American myself, I cannot be grateful enough for getting to live in the land of the free, and the home of the brave. As our president recently said, nothing we achieve as a nation would be possible without our military!

Happy Memorial Day!


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