Friday, June 4, 2010
Thoughts on Gettysburg
A remembrance left on a cannon carriage.
Today, Ranger Ryan Levins (my supervisor) and I were on patrol in the park and made our way to The Angle - which is one of the more heavily visited areas of the park. Leaving our vehicle and making our way on foot towards the monument memorializing the place where General Armistad fell, we spotted a weathered rose (the area has been victim to a number of thunderstorms lately) and a similarly worn, hand-made card attached to one of the Union cannons. Visitors leaving flowers and gifts at memorial statues is fairly common from what I've seen, but this one in particular stood out to me.
"During the third day of Gettysburg, Alonzo Cushing was sent into the line of fire as an artillery man for the Union army. he was shot in the stomach, fighting for his life, but nothing slowed him down. His cannon would not cease fire until his last breath was taken. After losing one of his crew at the cannon, Lon used his own bare thumb to cover the red-hot chamber that was necessary for the cannon to fire. Lon Cushing was found next to his cannon without a thumb and a gunshot wound to the temple. Lon's tremendous effort to keep his cannon firing and firing, his courage to fight, and his relentless will to win the war are all reasons for this rose that I lay.
This is for him.
This is the same soldier refereed to in Tony Luongo's earlier post about the Civil War solider receiving the Medal of Honor.
I don't know which visitor took the time to make this card or place it on the cannon at The Angle, or even what that person's motivations were - but for me, this gesture captures the spirit of what makes Gettysburg such an amazing, hallowed place. To that end, I think it's a great honor to be able to work with the staff that preserves, protects, and interprets these incredible Pennsylvania fields. The intense dedication and love for the battlefield and the individual soldiers that fought here of both the NPS staff and the park visitors is nothing short of inspiring.
If you're ever in the area, I really do encourage you to come visit us down at Gettysburg, even if it's just for a little while. I've only been here for a couple of weeks and I've already grown very attached to the park - but it didn't take me more than a day to really "get" the importance of everything here.
Sorry if that was a touch on the maudlin side, but sometimes you see something that you either really want to share or don't want to ever forget, and you just have to write about it.