We visited the Gettysburg battlefield today... it has been a long long time since I was there and most of the details had receded into some dark corner of my brain.
It was a painful day... My daughter, Alexis, remarked that places have memories. The memories of this very beautiful place were horrific. Some 163,000 soldiers met over the three day battle. Total casualties, killed, wounded, or captured, were 23,000 for the Union and 28,000 for the Confederates. My wife's great grandfather was wounded at Pickett's Charge and later died from the wound. So much death. So many families torn apart. So much pain. I found myself wondering why we have not learned.
We saved the last part of our visit for the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. As I drove up to the memorial I found myself dreaming that someday we might learn the lesson of that horrible battle. We parked just behind a car with multiple bumper stickers. The first said, "Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11." The second was a "terrorist hunting license." The third was a painting of the framers of the constitutions with the label, "Right Wing Extremists." There was a fourth I didn't really look it. And of course an NRA sticker.
I didn't talk with the driver. I didn't see the driver. I have no idea what kind of person he (I assume the driver is a "he") is. I do have to wonder how a person can frame the world in terms of those bumper stickers. More importantly I couldn't help but think of him in terms of the numbers of people who fought and died at Gettysburg. And to read those words in front of a memorial to peace...