Probably it was 1963 when we went to Gettysburg for the first time. We were driving from Chicago. I don’t remember the details: time of year, destination. I know it wasn’t tourist season; we were alone on the battlefield. There was no visitors center, no one to explain exactly what went on. You had to find that out for yourself. What I do remember, vividly: we got to the battlefield very early, and it was shrouded in fog. At first I was disappointed. I thought we wouldn’t be able to see anything because of the fog, and we didn’t have time to wait for it to lift. But, as we drove the monuments seemed to come alive in the fog, and we expected the battle to begin momentarily. It was an amazing experience that still moves me.
This trip to Gettysburg was another tourist experience, with lots of rain thrown in. Now I know all about the battles, but it would take years to really know all about it.
My persistent feeling about all of these war memorials is that it would be good if we really did not celebrate war any more. I know that Gettysburg is not a celebration, but there is too much emphasis on heroism and not enough on the horrors these men and women lived through.