Friday, July 12, 2013

On the way to the 4th of July in Maine

Shrine to Stonewall Jackson, Guinea Station Virginia
On my way to celebrate the 4th of July in Maine I got wind of the news that it was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  I have traveled the Florida to Maine road before and have passed what are the major battlefields of the Civil War.  I decided I would stop at a couple of these sacred places and try to contemplate what took place.  The first place I stopped was the Shrine to Stonewall Jackson.  Jackson was one of the South's most important strategist and soldier who had been instrumental and major victories of the South at Manassas and Antietam.  Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops and died eight days later at the rural community of Guinea Station outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Manassas Battlefield in Virginia
Manassas is a beautiful landscape that hardly evokes anything of what took place there.  Remnants of the civil war are marked by a few monuments and artillery pieces yet it was a brutal and bloody battle.

Old Slave Market, Fredericksburg Virginia
Further along the way I stopped in Fredericksburg and noted what is today a lovely colonial city.  Little remains of the devastation that took place in the siege of Fredericksburg when it was shelled by northern troops from the north side of the Rappahannock River.  Today the old slave market fits in without any of the stigma it carries.

Antietam Battlefield
Further north I stopped at the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg Maryland.  Stonewall Jackson had a very important role in holding the line in what could have been a devastating loss for the South.  The draw that came from this battle allowed the South to continue to push into Northern territory.  His death prevented his involvement in Gettysburg and a potentially different outcome  I started off to visit Gettysburg but the traffic for the Sesquicentennial Re-enactment Celebration was so severe that I decided I would forgo the visit until my return to Florida
Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington Monument
Once I arrived in Vermont I was deep in the North.  Here many monuments reflect the Revolutionary War.  This monument whose immensity at 306 feet tall is only rivaled by the Washington monument at 555 feet reflects the Battle of Bennington.  This fact made me think that we celebrate our Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July and that we really avoid thinking about the civil war.  Memorial Day tries to address all the losses combined.  This may sound critical but think about something. Statistics for the Revolutionary War deaths are estimated at 25,000 whereas for the Civil War the numbers are more than the losses of the WWI and WW2 combined at 625,000 deaths.  The following monument in Camden Maine addresses maybe something in our psyche that we don't really want to deal with the Great Rebellion of the Civil War.

It is a sad day when we think of the losses of wars specially when you think that we have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001. I can't help to think that we are a very lucky country to have had so many men (and now women) feel their duty to go and fight for their idea of freedom.  I thought this final photograph of a Civil War Monument in Belfast Maine said it all:  The Boys of 1861-65.  Maybe it would be best to try to stand for freedom and remember that... 
"The Boys of 1861-1865" Monument to Civil War in Belfast Maine

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