The post of another blogger I read led me to think of why I like to visit certain places. She is writing a series of poems that commemorate the sacrifice of the U.S. soldiers during the World Wars and eventually, other wars such as Gettysburg, too. I highly recommend you read them. But, my connection to her posts was through a photograph on her landing page. It was a cannon. I asked if it was a cannon at Gettysburg. Sure enough, it was!
Gettysburg is a place of Ghosts
We last visited Gettysburg in 2009. The battleground is filled with ghosts if you let yourself think of them. Our own country at war with itself. Brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor. Living in the Delaware River Valley shortly after our marriage, my husband and I visited these vast fields where so much blood was shed. That was in the early 1990s. By 2010, we had moved to the midwest and decided to take our three sons on a historical triangle trip. We visited Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and Williamsburg, Virginia. Gettysburg was our first stop and made an impression, as we knew it would. You can almost envision the bodies covering the fields near Devil’s Den. The cannons were massive and sure to waste a body in an instant. The memorials placed around the battlefield make sure you know of the severity of casualties. It is sobering.
Yet it is one of my favorite places to visit. The landscape around Gettysbury is some of the prettiest in the United States, in my opinion. Topography including rolling hills and verdant farmland with bright red barns are among common sites. The fact that such beauty was marred by such hate and devastation makes quite a statement.
And, then, there is the bravery of the young soldiers to think of. And, when I say young, I do mean young. Do you have a 14-year-old boy? Can you imagine him fighting in a war so bloody and deadly?
Since our 2010 visit, I also became fascinated by Civil War Medicine. One of my sons happened to do a National History Day Project on a law that stated civil war medical personal must treat soldiers from either side. My son and his friend acted out a scenario with a wounded soldier from “the other side” and how he needed to be treated despite the belief system (regardless of whether he supported ideologies from the north or south) this wounded young man held. It was fascinating to learn of this as well as some of the heroic measures of soldiers as well as surgeons.
So, upon leaving Gettysburg, I was haunted by ghosts that return whenever I think of our visit or the Battle of Gettsyburg so long ago.
Haleakala is a Place of Solitude
The year before, in 2009, we visited the Hawaiian Island of Maui. One of the highlights of this trip was visiting Haleakala, the volcano. When you visit the observation deck near the summit of Haleakala (over 10,000 feet) and look out over the crater, one feels as if they could be on Mars. It is a desolate scene. Otherworldly. The earth is red, scorched and of course, deserted.
Even though you are a visitor among many, you feel as if you are alone. All alone. I’ve never seen such a landscape before that visit or after. It is surreal. Everywhere you look out over the crater it seems so desolate you don’t even notice the person standing next to you. I wonder what they’re thinking of. Do they have the same sense of solitude? It almost seems impossible that they wouldn’t.
We visited the summit of Haleakala a second time on Christmas morning of 2015. It was clear. The moon was setting and the sun rose above the clouds. The feeling of solitude and serenity was even stronger for me during that visit. It is otherworldly – I imagine being on the surface of another planet. By myself. Alone.
Do any of the places you’ve visited in your life stir up certain feelings in you?
I am curious. Feel free to let me know in the comments! Thanks!