Sunday, September 16, 2012

East Coast Trip--Gettysburg

On Thursday, July 26, Mario and I flew out to start our week-long trip! We took a morning flight into Washington DC.  We were sad to be away from the kiddos for a few days, but it was so, so nice  not being responsible for anyone except ourselves--and being able to do things on our own timetable!  Our goal for this trip was twofold--to relax and reconnect in our marriage and to absorb as much US history as possible.  Mario will be focusing his writing of his travel journals on some of the more popular US sites after he finishes working on Paris, probably in the new year, but this was our chance to get a great overview of the history of our country.

So we begin...

dfw airport--
wow, we're actually sitting instead of running after someone(s)! ;)

As soon as we got into DC, we picked up our rental car, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and headed out to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, knowing it would be our only day to see it.

in front of the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors center...
don't they look like long time friends???
wonder what they are looking at???

this park and museum were on our "top five" list of our favorite sights from our trip

President Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address--
spoken a few months after the battle that took place here, as they dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetary to honor the fallen Union soldiers

the fighting that took place here had more casualties than any other battle in the civil war...
it is also considered one of the main turning points of the war

"soldiers national monument"
marks the spot President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address 

if you can't read that it states
july 1, 2, 3,

there were as many as 51,000 casualties in the battle at gettysburg
so many of the gravestones are marked "unknown"--
over 11,000 soldiers are listed as "missing" here

we decided to take a self guided car tour through the battlefield so we could explore on our own the sites that were of the most interest to us...
can you tell a big storm was on it's way in???

we did pass by this sign as we were driving along

this 3 day battle devastated the small town of gettysburg.  we were told that every open field and garden was a graveyard and every home a hospital...the number of wounded soldiers was 10 times the population of the town.  as the people of the town focused their efforts on treating the injured, the dead were left to rot in mass graves in the hot july sun.  the smell of death lingered for months and was so horrific people couldn't even leave their homes without scented handkerchiefs

but even after all the tragedy this town has seen, the land remains beautiful.
it's hard to imagine all the devastation of the war, when it is so peaceful to visit now.
don't we look relaxed???  and this is only day one!  hehe!

here's the State of Pennsylvania Monument
over one fourth of the union army that fought here was from pennsylvania
we like the storm clouds in this pic

this is a bronze tablet on the above monument...
we found it interesting the inscription reads "the war of the rebellion".
so often we think of the cause of the civil war as a fight against slavery, when in reality the main cause they were fighting for was the preservation of the union.

We also toured the museum, and it was probably the best museum Mario and I have ever been in!  That's saying a lot since we've traveled quite a bit in Europe!  But it was so, so captivating!  We weren't supposed to take pictures there, so I don't have any.  The exhibits were so well done--my poor description just doesn't do it justice--you'll have to go and see it for yourself!  But anyway, first we saw a short film (narrated by Morgan Freeman!) called "A New Birth of Freedom"which gave an overview of the economy and the state of the union during the mid-1800s.  It gave us a great basis to start from.  We got to see the Gettysburg Cyclorama.(http://www.nps.gov/gett/historyculture/gettysburg-cyclorama.htm)
It's a MASSIVE oil-on-canvas painting by Paul Dominique Phillippoteaux that is 359 feet long and 27 feet high.  It depicts day three of the battle--the final confederate assault.  It's in a 360 degree viewing auditorium where the visitor stands on a platform in the center...so, you are literally surrounded by the painting.  The lights go dark, and there's an auditory description of what's taking place in the battle, complete with lights and sound effects--we've never seen anything like it!  Very cool!

Well, we drove back into DC for the night and crashed!  Next up, our time in Washington DC!