After watching a thing called a cyclorama (which is an absolutely fantastic piece of art, by the way), we trekked over to the Soldiers' National Monument so that I could check an item off my life's to-do list: "read the Gettysburg Address from the spot where Lincoln spoke it." Check.
7 score and 17 years after ol' Honest Abe spoke 272 words for the ages, we find our country still struggling to form a unified union...struggling in the fight against racism....struggling to move forward. We talked with the kids about the meaning of Lincoln's words and the relevance of them today. We talked about the causes that drove men to risk their lives in battle. My history-teaching wife is really great at this stuff. This is good, because without her, my kids were in for an hours-long, bore-you-to-sleep diatribe on things like: the other speaker at Gettysburg that day in 1863, Lincoln's life/career/political acumen/Team of Rivals/death, current events, other historical events, etc. What they got, thanks to her, were words far more succinct and memorable.
At a minimum, Careese and I are hoping this little trip (in conjunction with our Harpers Ferry visit and previous visits to other conversation-inducing locations) in some way creates within our kids an, "increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."
On to the next stop: Pittsburgh, PA