Eleven score and seventeen years ago “our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation…”
Next July, it will have been 150 years since the battle of Gettysburg,
and 237 years since our nation declared our independence from England.
The total U.S. military casualties during the American Revolution is estimated to be as high as 50,000.
The casualties of the Civil War in just 3 days, July 1-3, 1863, surpasses the entire Revolution with an estimated 51,000. (23,000 for the Union; 28,000 for the Confederacy)
These battle fields look similar to my own fields, my own woods and my own back yard, and they were someone’s fields and back yard before those fateful days.
Most of the time “History” seems far away, almost fiction. I tend to feel removed from the timeline of the world as I sit in my comfortable home with wireless technology, absorbed in a purely academic interest in the story of the world.
Until I learn the names of Generals and Colonels, see their faces staring back at me from old photographs, read snippets of their personal biographies, and retrace their steps across maps of hallowed ground.
Watching a small band of men hike up three quarters of a mile across an open field where Pickett led his charge, I finally began to grasp the enormity of the Civil War. I was unmoved by the numbers until I imagine these vast fields, rocky hills, and forest, littered and piled with the bodies of the dead and dying.
The casualties were men, ordinary men like my father, my husband, my brothers.
They were hundreds of miles from home, at a time when people rarely travel more than 20 miles from home in their lifetime. Many of those that fought at Gettysburg had already been away for years, and if they survived, it would still be years before many of them would return.
As I capture moments with my camera, I am stuck by the thought that the world was never black and white.
These men, and all men through out history, lived in color and bled in color.
The pain was real. The sounds were real. The smells were real.
All stories are filled with questions until the final chapter is read, except to the author. Only he knows everything that lies between “Once upon a time…” and “…happily ever after.”
|southeastern view of the Jezreel Valley taken from top of Mount Carmel|
The fields of Gettysburg are insignificant when compared to enormous valleys spreading out before Meggido, the setting of the “end”, or at least the “end of the beginning” and the “beginning of ‘ever-after'”, but when I stood overlooking what Napoleon called “the world’s greatest natural battlefield”, a valley that has been fought over since the time of the ancient Egyptians, I didn’t know how to take it in. The miles were so vast; the expanse of open plains is as unfathomable as the number “billion” or “trillion” is to grasp.
To help you grasp the overwhelming plain, all I can do is compare.
|view across the field of Pickett’s Charge looking towards Cemetery Ridge|
3/4 mile of open field
(a little over a kilometer)
with 12,500 men in nine infantry brigades advancing
|eastern view from tel Meggido|
roughly 240 square miles
(or 380 square kilometers)
with all the armies of the world gathered
The future final battle of this world at Armageddon is no more fiction than the historical battle of the American Civil War at Gettysburg. As comfortable as I may feel reading my Bible in my cozy armchair reading black and white letters, I cannot forget having read about this war to end all wars as I overlooked the battlefield.
As patriotic and committed as I am to remembering those that fought and died for freedom and to preserved the union, I am even more committed to my citizenship in heaven and remembering how the bigger story ends. I will not allow myself be lulled into believing that truth is fiction. Christ is coming, and the people of this world are already choosing sides.