July 2005


Chautauqua tent

You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true. Last night on the quad at Keene State College, William Jennings Bryan literally talked up a storm.

William Jennings Bryan works the crowd

What, you say? William Jennings Bryan couldn’t possibly have spoken at Keene State last night, having died in Dayton, Tennessee on July 26, 1925? Well, here’s photographic proof. On a hot New Hampshire night, who other than Bryan (best known for being the inspiration behind the fiery fundamentalist in the play-turned-movie Inherit the Wind) would be working the crowd in a three piece suit?

Unless some mad scientist has let his time machine run amok in southern New Hampshire, there’s only one explanation for why Bryan, 19th century anti-lynching activist Ida Wells-Barnett, and an incognito Teddy Roosevelt were mingling with the masses at Keene State last night. The 2005 Chautauqua has come to town!

Chautauqua is an annual event sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities Council. The term “Chautauqua” dates back to 1874, when the Chautauqua Institute in New York began offering summer adult education programs for Sunday school teachers. Featuring presentations on the arts, religion, and education, the Chautauqua Institution created a format copied by other organizations offering traveling programs with lectures, dramatic presentations, and musical performances. Like the American lyceum system, Chautauqua is rooted in the 19th century, when a society without radio, television, or Internet relied upon lectures and public debates to educate and entertain.

Ida Wells-Barnett chats with an admirer

In New Hampshire’s annual Chautauqua, a cast of scholar-actors in period dress bring historical figures to life: in addition to Bryan, Wells-Barnett, and Roosevelt, this summer’s Chautauqua features presentations by Thomas Edison, peace activist Sarah Farmer, and restaurant entrepeneur Fred Harvey. Gathered under the theme of “America Reinvents Itself,” the 2005 Chautauqua encourages audiences to get into the mindset of 1905 America by bringing part of history alive. After hearing a lecture by a historical figure, audience members can ask that person questions in order to better understand the issues and arguments that underpin today’s American society.

Although thunderclouds descended–and then opened–before William Jennings Bryan (portrayed energetically by A. Theodore Kachel) could tackle the famously hot topic of evolution, my four-legged “date” and I enjoyed Dr. Brucella Wiggins Jordan’s portrayal of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, listening as we did from a comfy patch of grass just outside the Chautauqua tent. Jordan’s performance illustrated the historical knowledge and on-the-spot spontaneity a scholar turned historical reenactor must display on the Chautauqua stage. After Jordan had used the term “lynching” to refer to the 1892 shooting deaths of three African American businessmen in Memphis, Tennessee, an audience member asked what the word “lynching” meant. Mindful that her primetime performance was attended by a score of families with young children, Jordan in her role as Wells-Barnett answered the question delicately, defining “lynching” as an extra-judicial killing without divulging too many gorey details of how these killings took place.

Reggie is all ears

Although American history might not be the most popular academic subject, last night’s crowds were, like Reggie, all ears, eagerly listening to Wells-Barnett’s and Bryan’s lectures and asking thoughtful questions afterward. This isn’t to say, though, that my four-legged companion didn’t occasionally succeed at stealing the show, attracting more than his share of passing admirers, including Theodore Roosevelt himself. It seems Dr. Doug A. Mishler, who portrayed Roosevelt on Thursday night and served as emcee on Friday, is a dog lover, making a beeline from the Chautauqua stage to give Reggie a pat. Later (after Reg and I took an intermission break to find a water fountain) Mishler again cooed over Reg, remarking that only a well-cultured dog would drink neatly out of a paper cup. I’d tend to agree, and elaborate: only a well-cultured dog would attend Chautauqua in the first place.

If you’re in the Granite State and are looking for more than a cupful of culture, you can check out the 2005 Chautauqua tonight at Keene State College, July 24 at Greeley Park in Nashua, or July 25-27 at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth.

Today’s Photo Friday theme is Attractive, so that can mean only one thing here at Hoarded Ordinaries. Time for more plant porn.

Lest you think me perverse in my purveyance of such pictures, let me remind you that beautiful flowers are literally attractive, designed to attract the pollinating insects upon whom leafy futures rely. Unless cultivated by humans, flowers aren’t pretty for our benefit. Instead, it’s all about the bees…or beetles, or ants, or whatever sort of creepy-crawlies are responsible for spreading the pollen of potential from one plant to another.

Of course, there’s a whole band of plants that aren’t attractive–literally speaking–because they rely upon wind, not insects, to spread their pollen. I wrote last year, for instance, about the difference between goldenrod and ragweed pollen. Goldenrod is insect-pollinated and thus has pretty flowers with heavy, sticky pollen. Ragweed is wind-pollinated and thus has light, easily-dispersed pollen that gets into people’s lungs and causes allergic distress. Ragweed flowers are green and nondescript, “attractive” only to Aeolus, keeper of the winds.

A stunning Day Lily, on the other hand, is so attractive…

it can lure even the rusty eye of a weathered old hummingbird sculpture.

Reggie takes a swim

What do you do with a thickly furred dog on a 90-degree day? You take him to the river for a walk ‘n’ wade.

Pickerelweed

Now that midsummer is well underway, the banks of the Ashuelot River here in Keene are thickly fringed with Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), a blue-blossomed flower with heart-shaped leaves. Pictures don’t do this year’s crop of Pickerelweed justice. My trusty Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide says that Pickerelweed is “Common on margins of rivers and ponds,” and they ain’t lying. Right now the shores of the Ashuelot are smudged with blue blossoms, as if Mother Nature were wearing eyeshadow.

Although Pickerelweed is abundant and strikingly noticeable along the banks of the Ashuelot, I can’t seem to get any good photographs. Apparently I need to invest in a pair of hipwaders–or a canoe–to get anything other than fuzzy, taken-from-shore shots:

Pickerelweed

In person, the blurry blue of the near Pickerelweed is perfectly mirrored by a smudge of blue on the opposite shore: a river outlined in blue. But these pictures don’t do these “weeds” justice.

I also can’t seem to get a decent shot of the Water Lilies (Nymphaea) that are also currently in bloom in tranquil, lily-padded shallows:

Water lily

It seems that whenever I try to get a satisfactory close-up of either Pickerelweed or Water Lily, a Certain Someone gets in the way:

Reggie goes wading

Shady spot, Keene, NH

I woke up this morning feeling quiet and contemplative, in a mood for taking stock. Last night I met with a financial advisor: after years of living from paycheck to paycheck like a typical college student, I’ve decided it’s high time for me to get my accounts in order and start thinking about the rest of my life. This practice of looking at numbers–income and expenses, cash-flow and assets–invariably leads to questions about value: how am I currently living my life, and how do I want to live my life in the future?

There’s more than money fueling this morning’s contemplation. I’m in the heart of July and rounding the curve towards August, a personally significant time for me. Inwardly attuned to anniversaries, I’m mindful that it’s been two years since my ex-husband and I moved to Keene in July of 2003 and nearly one year since my ex and I separated last August. For me, July and August are irrevocably tinged with the taste of transitions: comings and goings. After living nearly a year on my own here in Keene, it seems natural that I’m inwardly taking stock: how’s it going, and are my emotional accounts in order?

Vase with flowers, Keene, NH

In revisiting this time last year, this morning I remembered the awful experience of those in-between days, the days of late July when I knew in my bones I was moving toward divorce but didn’t yet have the courage to say it. Last July I’d had several sessions with a counselor who observed the things I was saying about my marriage were nearly identical to what she regularly hears from women some 15 years older than me: women in their fifties who feel they’ve lost themselves in marriage and childrearing. You’re still young, the counselor remarked. It’s not too late to start over. When asked what it was that kept me in my marriage, I described the guilt I felt over leaving, especially right on the heels of finishing my PhD: wouldn’t it look like I’d used my husband, that there was a causal connection between reaching a goal gained through his support and then cutting the ties?

Lush and weathered, Keene, NH

Again that counselor said something that brought everything into sharp focus. Would I want to remain married to someone who stayed with me only out of guilt? Whether or not I liked the place I found myself, that’s where I’d come. I could either have the courage to say “Here’s where I’m at, and here’s where I’m going,” or I could agree to continue coasting, without a plan, in a direction I knew wasn’t good for anyone.

This morning as I began tallying my emotional accounts–nearly an entire fiscal (and physical) year on my own–I dipped into my blog archives to see how well I’d hidden what was really going on in my emotional life last year. What a fortuitous accident, then, to discover that this entry was what I’d written exactly one year ago today. Underneath my admiration for my Phoenix Friends who’d reinvented themselves after divorce was an unspoken realization that I needed to follow them. One year ago today, I looked at those who had been through the turnstile of divorce and wondered how they did it. Today one year later, I realize I’ve been through my own ‘stile and survived, having learned by doing.

Buddha altar

At first glance, this looks like a fairly standard Buddhist altar. There’s a Buddha, candles, and incense holder. There’s a meditation bell-in-a-box at Buddha’s right knee, and a supply of incense at his left. There is a baseball-sized moktok–a hollow wooden percussive instrument–draped with meditation beads at six o’clock, a black and brown striped stone draped with meditation beads at nine o’clock, and a snail shell draped with a wooden rosary at three o’clock. Yes, I like beads of either a Buddhist or Catholic sort: in good ecumenical (or heretical) fashion, I used to count my Buddhist prostrations with a Catholic rosary. (Lord Buddha and/or Jesus help me.) From this up-close view (and you can click the image to look closer), the only striking thing about my altar are the two bouquets of dead carnations in old, moldy water. A good Buddhist would take better care of her altar flowers…and she’d dust more often.

Buddha altar with crucifix

Viewed several paces removed, though, the meditation altar in my home office looks a bit less conventional: a bit more funky. Yes, that’s Jesus on the cross (in a triumphant resurrection pose) hanging above Buddha, and a stereo underneath. In front of the right stereo speaker are two chanting books (one falling apart from age and use; the second its replacement) and a pocket-sized copy of the Dhammapada. On top of the stereo is the CD case for Peter Gabriel’s Passion, the Islamic-infused soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ. Above my meditation mat and cushion, a banner says “Buddha,” but the overall statement here is “Eclectic! Ecumenical! Eccentric!”

My corner of the blogosphere has been buzzing with talk of altars–home altars–those quiet corners of our abodes where we display whatever sort of objects and amulets remind and return us to our practice. It started with Dave and moved to Rachel, with various other bloggers and blog-readers contributing to comment threads along the way. Whether you see an altar as a site of sacrifice or a point of visual focus, it seems quite a few of us have actual altars–or shelves of precious mementos that function like altars–that point to the sacred nature of home and hearth.

In last year’s post on Buddhist iconography, I explained that Buddha statues and the altar accoutrements that accompany them aren’t the trappings of idolatry. Instead, Buddhist altars are points of visual focus: fancy or funky reminders of our own intrinsic awakened nature. In thinking more about home altars versus the fancy type you see in churches and Zen Centers, I realize that our altars are a kind of alter ego: a visual expression of what we cherish and value. Looking at my home altar, you can tell I’m ecumenical not orthodox, I’m a bit funky or even eccentric, and I’m not particularly particular when it comes to housekeeping. Perhaps there’s a coffeetable book in this notion of Altar Egos: My Altar, My Self.

So, what’s on your altar?

UPDATE! As either fate or chance would have it, Fran blogged her home altar yesterday, and her post reminded me that I’d forgotten to mention Augustine’s colorful contribution from July 15th. It seems I need all sorts of reminders, altar-oriented and otherwise, to keep my forgetful mind on track.

Yield to pedestrians

Yes, we now have freshly painted Main Street crosswalks here in Keene, and not a moment two soon. Last week I mentioned the boy who got hit by a car while crossing Main Street with his grandmother, and subsequent newspaper coverage of the accident blamed downtown construction for that and another pedestrian accident. (Incidentally, the newspaper also reported that the boy is fine, having been treated at the hospital for bruises and then released.) Main Street is crisscrossed with pedestrian crossings–there’s a crosswalk every 30 yards or so–and without painted markings and in the presence of construction-related lane closures and orange caution cones, the article claimed, drivers were confused as to where pedestrians would and wouldn’t be crossing.

Yield to pedestrians

When I first encountered this claim that road construction and a subsequent lack of painted crosswalks was to blame for both of last week’s pedestrian accidents, I was skeptical. Surely crosswalks (or a lack thereof) don’t hit people; drivers hit people. In my mind, blaming a lack of crosswalks for one’s careless driving is like blaming the sun in your eye for a fumbled fly ball. Surely good, careful drivers (like good, careful fielders) can compensate for real-life challenges.

Then in the interest of fairness, I took a drive downtown…and although I didn’t (thankfully) hit any pedestrians, I did feel disoriented and confused about where people would or wouldn’t be crossing. Keene’s extra-wide Main Street features angled parking, so sometimes it’s difficult to see pedestrians on the sidewalk. Since people here are so used to well-trained drivers stopping to allow walkers to cross in front of them (the New Hampshire way), pedestrians often pop onto the pavement rather than pausing to make sure drivers see them. Although I wouldn’t have thought that painted crosswalks would make that much of a difference to drivers, a quick spin downtown proved that I do subconsciously slow down and look around when I see crosswalks and painted “Yield” symbols. In the absence of such reminders, it was surprisingly easy to forget such precautions.

Beetle

And while I don’t believe there is a New Hampshire law requiring drivers to stop for huge beetles crossing streets, apparently our local bugs have been emboldened by fresh paint, hitting the pavement with renewed vigor. Although it has been tropically warm and steamy in southern New Hampshire these days, I stopped in my tracks (literally) when I saw this six-legged pedestrian plodding down the paved sidewalk in front of the rectory of Saint Bernard’s church. Shouldn’t this guy be rolling balls of wildebeest dung on an African savannah rather than poking around the streets of downtown Keene?

Lest you think (in light of this and Friday’s post) that Hoarded Ordinaries is going to the bugs, let me assure you that I’m not particularly fond of insects. As a child, I was terrified of bugs, refusing even to touch pictures of insects in a children’s science book I owned. After I became a Nature Nut in high school, I had to change my anti-insect tune a bit…but not much. I’ll tolerate exoskeletonned creepy-crawlies out of a sense of scientific curiosity…but I wouldn’t want Mr. Giant Beetle plodding his pedestrian way across my living room floor. I didn’t step on Beetle, and I’m mighty glad for that: his huge body would have made a sickening squish, so I’m content to let him walk on and away from me, thank you.

Out to the ballgame

In the summertime, nothing beats the sight of baseball players on a field of green in front of a red barn.

Swamp Bat Mobile

Okay, that building isn’t a barn, it’s a carriage house. But it’s barn-red, and it makes a picturesque and quintessentially New England backdrop for the Keene Swamp Bats, who on Friday night sent the Concord Quarry Dogs home yelping with their tails between their legs.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, summer is finally here: on Friday night, I took myself out to the ballgame.

Swamp swag for sale

If you don’t live in or around Keene, you’ve probably never heard of the Keene Swamp Bats. Like an obscure musical that is off, off, off Broadway, the Swamp Bats are more minor than the Minor Leagues, but bigger than Little. The Bats belong not to a league of their own, but to a league you’ve probably never heard of: the New England Collegiate Baseball League, which consists of twelve teams in six New England states. NECB players are the real Boys of Summer: college ballplayers from NCAA-member schools who volunteer to go somewhere other than home for the summer, playing ball for teams with colorful names like the Manchester Silkworms, Torrington Twisters, and North Adams Steeplecats.

For towns like Keene that don’t have major or even minor league sports teams, the college players who visit every summer become adopted hometown heroes. Swamp Bats live with local families, work part-time jobs in the community, and otherwise act like typical home-for-the-summer college kids…except they don’t come from around here. This year, Keene’s roster includes players from schools such as Georgia Tech, the University of Pittsburgh, and Clemson, with no fewer than five Swamp Bats originally hailing from my home state of Ohio.

Cheap seats

Whether it’s the perpetual appeal of an all-American pastime or the fact that there isn’t much to do in Keene on a Friday night, locals come out in force to root, root, root for the hometeam. Friday night was clear and mild, attracting a crowd of 2,945 fans to Alumni Field. If this doesn’t sound like an impressive turn-out by major league standards, keep in mind that these are college “amateurs,” and Keene has a population of 20,000. When’s the last time you went to a ballgame where more than a tenth of the town showed up in the stands?

Baseball balloon

And loyal Swamp Bats fans don’t just show up…they dress and buy the part, decking themselves and their kids with purple and black SwampWear. At Friday’s game, folks in the bleachers, grandstand, and sidelines lawn chairs were sporting Swamp Bats hats, shirts, and jackets while roaming throngs of children clutched black or purple balloons, souvenir bats, and other Swamp Swag. The Swamp Bats might be a team you’ve never heard of, but here in Keene they have an enthusiastic following of fans who either appreciate a night of good clean fun or recognize a cheap date (tickets $3 apiece) when they see it.

So, how was the game? As Saturday’s Sentinel article proclaimed, the Swamp Bats scored “early and often,” racking up in the first inning alone nine runs toward their eventual 11-3 win over the Quarry Dogs. So while the beloved Red Sox were spanking the Yankees in Boston (a game whose scores were announced over the loudspeakers at Alumni Field), Keene’s beloved Purple Sox were strutting their stuff in the setting sun.

Purple sox

Freddy T leads a kids' conga line

But any given ballgame is only partly about the game and the grown fans it attracts. Swamp Bats games are popular with families largely because of the goofy on-field games and contests that keep youngsters entertained between innings. At Friday night’s game, a semi-feral herd of youngsters roamed from stands to concessions and back while their parents sat chatting with friends and neighbors: a chance to catch-up with other grownups while the kids found whatever minimal mischief is possible at a family-friendly event. Whether competing in a shoe-fetching relay race with Swamp Bats mascot Ribby or parading around the stands in a sombrero-wearing conga line led by emcee Freddy T, young fans had plenty to keep them occupied during the game’s down times.

And in case you think Keene teens are too cool for such frivolous frolics, there was a high school contingent at the game, undoubtedly drawn by a desire to find Something to Do on a Friday night. In addition to the kids and families at the game, I saw one group of high schoolers led by a teen sporting a spiked mohawk and black “Abortion is Mean” T-shirt. Encountering a clean-cut kid with a “Rock for Life” T, Mr. Mohawk complimented him on his attire. “Did you buy that at SoulFest,” one teen asked the other. “Naw, I got it online,” the other responded, proving that you will know they are Christians not by their haircuts but by their pro-life T-shirts.

Ribby makes friends

My favorite image from Friday’s Swamp Bats game had nothing to do with baseball itself, occurring well before the first pitch as fans queued into Alumni Field. What’s more quintessentially wholesome than a summer baseball game where a proud Big Brother can show a beaming Little Brother that meeting a huge baseball-loving chiropteran isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds? If baseball fans are made, not born, I suspect Ribby made more than a few lifelong fans through his furry extroversion.

Luna moth

I had to dig deep into my photo archives to find this contribution to today’s Photo Friday challenge, Silky. This is a luna moth that clung for several days on a living room window screen at my old home in Hillsborough, NH. Never having seen a luna moth up close, I couldn’t believe how intricately detailed–simultaneously furry and silky!–its body scales and antennae were: a winged miracle. (Click on image for an enlarged view.)

Smoothed

Last night, accompanied only by my camera, I walked to Central Square and back to see what’s been happening in Keene since I was away this past week.

Bricked edge

Summer is a busy time in Keene; seemingly overnight, old buildings fall and new ones pop up like mushrooms. Since I’ve been gone, the construction project next to my favorite abandoned factory on Water Street has gone from being a huge chainlink-surrounded hole in the ground to being a huge chainlink-surrounded expanse of flat, smoothed earth. Apparently while I was gone, workers removed the site’s last buried oil and gasoline tanks, so now there’s flat, bare earth where last summer’s goldenrods used to be. Before you know it, there will be apartments on this plot, a place where college kids can grow like weeds.

Summertime is construction time here. Main Street’s been perpetually pocked, it seems, with jackhammered holes and patched pavement as work crews move from one site to another, digging here and filling there. Summer is also the time when everyone is moving: now that students have gone, businesses are site-swapping, moving up or out or in. Armadillo’s Burritos has moved into half of the old bike shop, an Unknown Business is renovating next door, and a sports bar is taking over the old photo place. These days if you walk into town expecting to find your Old Favorite in the Same Old Spot, you might be suddenly surprised: the toy shop where I used to buy gifts for nieces and nephews now sells T-shirts, and the Korean tailor around the corner from Central Square has been replaced by comic books.

Save

If towns, like the people who constitute them, are organic entities, a certain amount of growth and change is natural. In a universe where the only thing constant is change, we shouldn’t be surprised to see one business replacing another as surely as children inherit their parents’ eyes and estates. And yet in a universe where the only thing constant is change, it’s an understandable human impulse to ask whether there’s anything that remains the same over time. In our hurry to grow and evolve, are we staying connected to the things that made us great to begin with, or are we discarding the proverbial baby with the bathwater?

Last night during my Getting Reacquainted walk through town, I stopped for dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant. As I sat outside and ate my enchiladas, I could see glimpses of people sitting outside and eating at the new umbrella tables at Armadillos across the street: a newly embarked Battle of the Burritos. It was a mild summer night, and loose throngs of people were strolling and mingling: the kind of scene that would do any Chamber of Commerce proud.

Our

Distracted by dinner, I heard what I did not see: the distinctive sound of brakes screeching followed by an almost simultaneous metallic crunch. Almost instantaneously, I heard a collective gasp as everyone–passersby, waitstaff, and diners on both sides of the street–looked up to see every parent’s worst nightmare: a child on a bike lying crumpled in front of a car.

“That kid got hit!” someone yelled. I couldn’t hear whether the boy himself cried, the general hubbub being louder. “I’m a nurse!” a female voice shouted as people shot from every direction, a circle of adults crouching around the child, who seemed to be conscious and talking as traffic and (seemingly) the entire world stopped for an anxious moment. “Someone call 911!” another disembodied voice shouted; the man at the table next to mine answered, “I already got it!” Within minutes, the first ambulance arrived accidentally, on its way to or from another emergency, its medic approaching on foot through snarled traffic. Main Street is a busy thoroughfare in part because Keene has the only hospital for miles, so we’re perpetually pelted with the sound of other towns’ emergencies arriving in ambulances. Last night, the sound of a second and third siren arriving sounded sweet, nothing at all like noise.

History

For about thirty anxious minutes on Main Street last night, I saw an example of what town and community should mean. As several grown-ups clustered to comfort the boy as medics strapped him onto a stretcher, I saw one woman (a stranger?) put a comforting hand on the back of the woman crouched at the boy’s head (his mother, or grandmother?) For about thirty anxious minutes on Main Street last night, the mood was positively tribal as everyone stopped, watched, and worried over their boy: not a stranger or a nobody, but kin.

Community is only partly–and only a very small part–about buildings and grounds, the comings and goings of construction. Community is about kinship, that shared gasp that happens immediately and automatically in response to emergency large or small. Today, I’ll read the paper to see what happened to the boy: I’ll presumably learn his name, medical condition, and further details of his accident. But in the interim, I saw Keene at her best last night as anonymous strangers rushed to care for a kid they didn’t know: the kind of community I hope stays the same while buildings and grounds change and evolve.

On the first night of my drive down to Floyd, VA last week, I camped just north of Gettysburg, PA, which allowed me to take an early morning trip to Gettysburg National Military Park.

I went to Gettysburg not to see the park there: I had no desire to view monuments, read interpretive placards, or hear tour guides talk. I didn’t want to mingle with crowds of tourists or otherwise feel I was visiting a Disney-esque theme park: History Come Alive! What I wanted from Gettysburg was the lay of the land: a sense of where it was that some 51,000 troops were killed, wounded, captured, or lost. Visiting Gettysburg in the morning, when mist still shrouded the fruit orchards that surround it, I wanted to imagine how the morning after three days of battle might have dawned, with an incongruous peace as meadowlarks sang their usual slurred song over flat, blood-stained fields.

Crisscrossed with roads, the battleground at Gettysburg is topped with corn and wheat, the icing of the Pennsylvania countryside. The land here is flat and fertile, a place more valuable as a breadbasket than battleground. Like the sheep pastures around the Revolutionary sites in Lexington, MA, Gettysburg seems too quiet a place to suffer the tramp of marching boots and the clatter of rifle and musket. In this place immortalized by warfare, you can truly see that fighting isn’t what humans should be doing. Instead, we’d best while our days with plow and scythe, growing food to feed new lives rather than mowing down the old.

A land of light and shadow, Gettysburg reminds us that things are never what they seem. Death comes just as swiftly in a beautiful place as it does elsewhere; quiet fields are easily disturbed by human argument. The only people I saw at Gettysburg were a pair of joggers, a man parked to read the newspaper by a “No Parking” sign, and an early trio of sightseers–mom, dad, and elementary-aged son–waiting for the Visitors’ Center to open. History happened at Gettysburg, but history happens perpetually wherever we set foot. The gift of Gettysburg isn’t what transpired there many years ago; the gift of Gettysburg is its lesson in how we might lead our lives today.

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