Having a first-hand experience at Gettysburg was the most surreal feeling. It’s almost hard to remember that at one point the land was witness to bloodshed of our American people. These battlefields have such a salient part in our history and it’s comforting to know that as long as people continue to care, they will continue being a part of our lives and will continue to be visited. Remembering the parts of history that make us uncomfortable is essential because hardships are what shaped America.
Not only is the battle itself important, but the compassion shown in these heinous times is equally important as it keeps humanity alive. One story told by our guide that stood out to me indefinitely was about a Union soldier saving a young Confederate soldier who had been wounded by a bullet to the side. The Union soldier pulled the Confederate soldier behind the copse of trees and returned to his regiment. In 1913, a 54 year anniversary of the end of the Civil War was held on the Gettysburg Battlefield at The Angle. Former Confederate and Union soldiers alike came together to celebrate the true freedom and peace that America now had. On this day, a Confederate began telling a story of how he was saved by a Union soldier and in the middle, a Union soldier kindly interrupted and recalled the same experience, except he was doing the saving. At this, they embraced, most likely feeling thankful for each other at the time. The Confederate soldier had not seen the man since he was saved therefore, neither of them knew if the other had even survived the war until that very point.
Being able to honor those who came before us, who fought for freedom is humbling in itself. I’m beyond grateful that there are those with full hearts who care about those who lost their lives to this painstaking battle. On July 4, 1863, the day after the war, hundreds of soldiers were buried on the field and to this day bodies are being found through excavation where most of the Union soldiers are buried at the National Cemetery in Gettysburg.