Tuesday, June 05, 2012

VACATION, Day 5 - June 4th, Gettysburg and Flight 93 Memorial

Yesterday we visited the past on our vacation through two spots full of history. The Flight 93 Memorial and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

First, Gettysburg. Because this famous battle of the Civil War occurred so long ago, (in 1863 over 3 days in July) I didn’t experience any emotions. Many people died, around 51,000 in fact, but I saw this experience as a history lesson more than a time of remembrance.

Teaching Noah and discussing it all with John were the best parts of our visit. Discovering the actual scenes of the battle proved fascination. I thought Gettysburg was a simple field, but in truth, those three days were fought over all sorts of terrain including hills and forest. The area is quite monetized from everything to ghost tours to memorabilia to the towns businesses invoking the past. Example: The Gettysburg Orthodontist has a sign in front of it with an old civil war fence with bright teeth in it. :0)

Here are some pics:

We took a minute with Abe.

Driving through the battlefield.
This is Cemetary Hill. Place of the final battle - July 3, 1863

Driving out to the Flight 93 memorial was a completely different experience. It’s been 11 years since that horrible day in September, 2001, but the memorial is not finished. The crash site is 18 miles away from a main interstate so the drive through country hills and forest to get there built up the emotion for me. The memorial area now consists of a visitor place where you walk around outside to read panels of what happened. Then you walk down the edge of the field where the flight crashed. The walk was a quiet one, other tourists remembering with us, all of us silent or whispering. We pass the impact site, marked by a boulder and the forest, obviously missing a few trees. At the end of the path is a long white wall that represents the final flight path. The white wall consists of large marble stones. A name of each of the 40 passengers and crew who died is chiseled in each piece.

I loved that we took a moment and prayed for the families of those lost; I cannot imagine their pain. Grief is difficult enough, but to have it associated with something so public and so tragic…

I also listening to John teach Noah about courage. This memorial is a tribute to folks who stood up and did something to fight back. They will not be forgotten. I saw no monetizing whatsoever. No Flight 93 souvenirs at all. I liked that. But I wondered if it too will be the object of ghost tours and memorabilia in 150 years. Probably.

Here are some pics:

One of the panels at the beginning. The farmhouse that this picture
shows was directly behind us a mile.

Folks could leave a message on one wall. This one moved me.

The wall of granite beside the field.

This is the crash site.

A close up of a boulder that marks it.

At the end of the path is this long white wall with all of the
names of the deceased 40. The wall follows the flight path.

I love this moment. The panel reads "We're going to
do something." John took this as a teachable moment to talk
to Noah about what true courage is.


Cheryl Barker said...

Sounds like you're having a great vacation, Robbie. I love visiting places with so much history. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

smithsk said...

From the 19th century to the 21st century - you revisisted the sites that shaped America.

Nanette said...

What a great trip. My husband always made sure when we traveled (the kids were young) that we got a history lesson of somesort about the are we were visiting. It was great!

Nanette said...

Great post and vacation. We have taken our family to several historial sites for vacations in the past.