Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week 2, Pt 1: Law Enforcement, Repatriation and Roadside Assistance

Week 2, Pt 1: Law Enforcement, Repatriation and Roadside Assistance
May 21

Today I spent the day on patrol with Supervisory LE Ranger Levins. We began the day by "repatriating" a rock back to the battlefield. Every year, thousands of tourists come to Gettysburg National Military Park, many of them seeking souvenirs from the battlefield. Since souvenir hunting is illegal within the park, some tourists try to take other relics from the site, particular rocks from the numerous rock walls that crisscross the landscape. Ranger Levins explained to me that these rocks are often returned to the park by individuals who feel guilty for taking them. Some have even claimed that they suffered bad luck or spiritual haunting as a result of taking these stones!

The stone we received was sent with an apology note, stating the it was taken from the Sharphooter's Wall at Devil's Den. This wall was supposedly built by Confederate sharpshooters to protect them from enemy fire during the battle. The wall was made famous for its depiction in Alexander Gardner's photo of a dead Confederate soldier killed near the wall during the battle. After driving out to Devil's Den in a pouring rain, Ranger Levins gave me the privilege of placing the stone back in the wall. It was a moving experience for me walking among the boulders of Devil's Den as a haunting mist covered the battlefield. I thought about the Gardner photograph, the dead soldier portrayed in it, and the plight of others like him who died on battlefields throughout the Civil War. Placing that stone back was a mark of respect to the soldiers who fell here and a step in preserving the area for future generations.

Shortly thereafter, not far from the Devil's Den, we received notice that a tourist had accidentally driven off the road and was stuck. Fortunately, nobody was injured and Ranger Levins and several other Law Enforcement Rangers sprang into action. Traffic was directed at the scene while a tow truck was summoned to tow the vehicle back onto the road. I was amazed as Ranger Levins examined the area and identified exactly where the driver went off road and that he was going too fast for conditions. While the driver was a bit shaken, he thanked the rangers for helping him out and vowed to drive a little more cautiously. We conducted patrols for the rest of the day and monitored the park for other vandalism or accidents. While we had no further incidents, I was excited for what we had accomplished that morning and looked forward to expanding my role with law enforcement in the coming weeks.

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