I am a nerd. Last year on November 19th I was stuck in Las Vegas, attending the NAI conference (the same one Jake and I have been grousing about for the last two weeks). This was the first Dedication Day event I had missed since first coming to Gettysburg in 2003. I was upset. I was disconsolate. I trudged the strip dejected. I toured the Atomic Testing Museum, which was fascinating but unfulfilling. I am one of those dorks who doesn't understand how anyone can schedule anything other than a trip to Gettysburg on November the 19th. The glitz of Vegas only underlined this cold fact.
|Like a scene out of the best Ray Bradbury |
short story ever: Downwind from Gettysburg.
A massive crowd saw Stephen Lang speak. Surprisingly, Lang's speech was good. I thought he made some excellent connections and tried to delve into a deeper meaning of that place. It certainly was not the typical exercise in expounding how little appreciation young people have for history, something which not only comes off as holier-than-thou but is often preaching directly into the choir loft when directed at a Dedication Day crowd.
|Why does this video an audience member uploaded |
to YouTube abruptly end after Jim Getty speaks?
What happened after Getty closed? Another chunk of the crowd evaporated into the cold November air, streaming away. What was left looked like a typical Dedication Day crowd. Only about half of the people in the audience as there ceremony began were still there.
But why does this matter? Simply because of the deep meanings and resonances which unfolded next, after so many had left. The final activity of the day, before the Gettysburg High School band played "America the Beautiful," was a simple ceremony. Sixteen members of the audience were asked to stand as their countries of origin were announced: Armenia, Canada, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Germany, India, Kenya, Somalia, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Then Philadelphia district director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services Tony Bryson rose and approached the podium. He asked the candidates to raise their hands. He swore them in as citizens.
But why was this so meaningful?
|No better definition of |
the meaning of the Civil War...
Lincoln's dream of a, "new birth of freedom," was palpable in the cold November Saturday morning. If only more people had bothered to stick around to see it.